The Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental
smallpox drug, whether it is needed or will even work.
Billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, longtime Democratic donor and controlling shareholder in New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., secured the contract which calls for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation’s biodefense stockpile.
On Oct. 13, 2010, Siga announced that the government intended to award it a contract for ST-246 worth as much as $2.8 billion, although the federal contract required that the winning bidder be a small business, with no more than 500 employees.
Within days, Siga’s stock price soared. In its year-end financial statement, the company said: “Our ability to generate near-term revenue is particularly dependent on the success of our smallpox antiviral drug candidate.”
Chimerix Inc., a North Carolina company that had competed for the contract, protested, saying Siga was too big and the Small Business Administration agreed after finding that Siga’s affiliation with MacAndrews & Forbes disqualified it.
Instead of the Obama administration awarding the contract to Chimerix as the only eligible small-business applicant, or reopening the competition to companies of any size, Obama’s administration moved to block all companies — except Siga — from bidding on a second offering of the contract.
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Dr. Thomas M. Mack, an epidemiologist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, has advised the Food and Drug
Administration on the virus. He called the plan to stockpile Siga’s drug “a waste of time and a waste of money.”