U.S. grows its biodefense stockpile

The U.S. is seeing a growth in the supplies of countermeasures for blunting bioterrorist attacks, according to an annual report for the federal Project BioShield program.

According to the report, the government decided to purchase 107,000 doses of an antitoxin for Clostridium botulinum, a decrease from the full 200,000 doses ordered in 2006, CIDRAP News reports.

Project BioShield was established in 2004 and provides authority and funds to support the development of countermeasures against chemical biological, radiological and nuclear threat agents. The program is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

According to the report, BARDA acquired 57,102 doses of the monoclonal antibody Raxibacumab, which treats anthrax, from Human Genome Sciences in 2011. This included 20,000 doses under a 2005 contact and 37,102 doses of the 45,000 ordered in a 2009 contract option. At the end of 2010, there was a total supply of 36,102 doses of Raxibacumab, CIDRAP News reports.

In 2011, BARDA completed the acquisition of 10,000 doses of Anthrax Immune Globulin from Cangene, which also treats anthrax. By 2010, the supply was down to 7,327 doses, with spending on Raxibacumab and AIG coming to $478 million, according to the report.

BARDA also purchased 28.75 million doses of the anthrax vaccine BioThrax from Emergent BioSolutions.

BARDA purchase botulism treatments, as well, including 107,560 doses of Botulinum Antitoxin Therapeutic from Cangene. It ordered 200,000 doses. At the end of 2010, the supply was at 97,000 doses.

"Reevaluation of the requirement led to a decrease in the number of doses necessary in the SNS [Strategic National Stockpile]," the report said, CIDRAP News reports. "Thus HHS/BARDA has met the requirement."

The product, which is derived from horse serum, was originally contracted for $415 million, though $61 million was added to "maintain the horse herd, stockpile plasma, and continue stability testing of plasma and product in the SNS. This contract modification will ensure preparedness out to 2026," according to CIDRAP News.