Protest filed against BARDA's smallpox contract

Two days after Siga Technologies announced that the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority had awarded it a five year, $433 million contract, antiviral developer Chimerix filed a protest to suspend the work.

The Siga contract was in support of the final stages of ST-246 development, the development of techniques for scale-up manufacturing and a Phase III safety study. Chimerix won a BARDA contract worth an initial $24.8 million for the development of an antiviral smallpox medical countermeasure called CMX001, In Pharma Technologist reports.

"We are undaunted by what we believe will be a brief delay in starting work on this important bioterrorism defense contract and will make every effort to deliver our smallpox antiviral drug to the strategic national stockpile as soon as possible,” Eric Rose, Siga's CEO, said, according to In Pharma Technologist.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office will review the protest and make a decision on the award of the contract. According to Siga, GAO protests are typically resolved in less than 100 days.

If the contract to Siga is reinstated, Siga will manufacture 1.7 million treatment courses of the drug within five years, In Pharma Technologist reports. BARDA has the option of sourcing an extra 12 million courses. If this and other options are exercises, the contract could be worth up to $2.8 billion.

“[The] contract represents an important milestone in the path from discovery to approval of a medical countermeasure against a potentially deadly bioterrorism threat,” Robin Robinson, the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and BARDA director, said, according to In Pharma Technologist.