Elusys Therapeutics CEO expresses concern over lack of biodefense funding

Elusys Therapeutics CEO expresses concern over lack of biodefense funding.
Elusys Therapeutics CEO expresses concern over lack of biodefense funding.

A bipartisan Blue Ribbon study in October found that America is not prepared to handle an attack with a biological weapon.

The panel included several recommendations in its report. Among them were making the leadership of biodefense a priority for the White House and developing and implementing a comprehensive biodefense strategy.

However, funding these programs remains an issue, especially in the area of purchasing and maintaining biodefense medicines.

“Under the Bush administration, there was a lot of money bio-shield fund, a multi-year fund of $5.6 billion,” Dr. Elizabeth Posillico, president and CEO of Elusys Therapeutics, told Bio Prep Watch. “Congress has not acted to put another fund in place that’s multi-year, so they now have annual funding that’s considerably lower than is being suggested by the president.”

The report cited the growing concerns over Daesh -- also called ISIS -- and mishandling of dangerous biological agents as reasons for urgency in addressing biodefense. Despite this sense of urgency, the panel’s recommendations have yet to be adopted.

“The reason it hasn’t been adopted in large part is because people need to be constantly reminded bioterrorism is a threat,” Posillico said.

Posillico added that Elusys played a role in helping articulate the recommendations included in the report, in no small part due to the role industry would have to play in a comprehensive biodefense strategy.

“Industry is integral in the development of any countermeasure or developing any way to combat terrorism,” Posillico said. “This is an unusual space, we don’t have a commercial market for our products. We only have one customer, and that’s the U.S. government.”

While the government has funded the process to a degree during the 10 years that Anthim has been in development, Elusys has found issues with the funding process that Posillico wants to see fixed. With Anthim on track for licensure as early as March 2016, the amount of funding for biodefense procurement is another concern for Elusys.

“If we make it, we need some assurance the government will buy it,” Posillico said.