SIGA CEO addresses Congressional subcommittee on biosecurity

Dr. Eric Rose, SIGA Technologies Inc. president and CEO, recently appeared before the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations to address biodefense industry concerns.

Rose’s chief concerns were regarding potential funding cuts to biodefense programs which, he argued, could hurt the development of biodefensive countermeasures.

“Despite the serious challenges facing lawmakers trying to balance the nation's budget, now is not the time to re-appropriate funding from programs supporting the industry such as BARDA or Project Bioshield,” Rose said in his address. “Limited funding will leave a void in the development of medical countermeasures needed to keep the United States safe from a bioterror attack.”

Rose noted that medical biodefense countermeasures have yet to be seen as lucrative by large, well-funded pharmaceutical companies.

“This leaves the field open to smaller drug, vaccine, and diagnostic companies in need of public and private capital to pursue research and development,” Rose said.

He also pointed out that biodefense companies rely on BARDA funds for research and development and Project Bioshield for procurement.

"The promise of government funding in this fashion drives private sector investment,” Rose said. “The investment community will only commit if it believes the federal marketplace is reliable, and investments may well shrink if funding to these programs is cut.”

Rose also pointed to the real threat of bioterror as recognized by the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, which concluded that “terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon.”

The same Commission recently issued an "F" for the government's preparedness on bioterror specifically calling out the “lack of priority given to the development of medical countermeasures.”