United States refills anthrax antitoxin stockpiles

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response announced on Thursday that the United States' supply of anthrax antitoxin will be maintained until 2018.

The new supplies of anthrax antitoxin come from contracts made under Project BioShield, a 2004 act that supports the procurement and development of anthrax antitoxins and other medical supplies. Project BioShield is the main way the U.S. government supports advanced development of new medical countermeasures to protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

"Project BioShield's long-term funding and planning encourage companies to partner with the federal government on products like anthrax antitoxin that they otherwise would not pursue, but that our nation would need in a crisis," Robin Robinson, the director of ASPR's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, said. "The acquisition of additional anthrax antitoxin to replenish expiring stocks will provide for greater national health security against this threat through 2018 and beyond."

Project BioShield has awarded contracts, valued at a minimum of $100,000, to companies like Cangene Corporation, Elusys Therapeutics, Inc., Emergent Product Development, GlaxoSmithKline and PharmAthene.

For the specific case of anthrax antitoxins, a contract worth approximately $196 million was given to GlaxoSmithKline. Human Genome Sciences and Cangene have delivered anthrax antitoxins to the national stockpile since 2009 and 2007, respectively.