Published On: Sun, Jun 23rd, 2013

Senator Claire McCaskill questions Richard Danzig’s influence in the government’s procurement of the anthrax anti-toxin, raxibacumab

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is calling on the Inspectors General for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to investigate contracts awarded to former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, who pushed for federal contract to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of the anthrax anti-toxin drug, raxibacumab.

Claire McCaskillIn letters to Acting Inspector General of the DOD, Lynne Halbrooks and Deputy Inspector General of Homeland Security, Charles Edwards, McCaskill questions reports of the threat to the United States from drug-resistant anthrax, the purchase  of $334 million worth of  65,000 doses of raxibacumab from Human Genome Sciences, Inc and Danzig”s ties to the company, which he serves on the Board of Directors.

The chairwoman of a Senate Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight notes that Danzig wrote in a 2003 Pentagon-funded report that a drug to combat antibiotic-resistant anthrax should be produced “as soon as possible” and that stockpiling such a product would deter a biological attack.

McCaskill also says that Danzig “may have improperly influenced the government’s assessment of the need to acquire anthrax countermeasures.” During that time after the report, Danzig served as a consultant to both federal departments and as a member of the board of directors of Human Genome Sciences Inc.

“Not nearly enough questions have been asked about a scientifically unproven program that costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. “At the same time, the person hyping the drug-resistant anthrax threat has a significant financial stake in these contracts and isn’t disclosing that during his recommendations, and that’s a red flag-especially when the government is the only customer.”

Raxibacumab costs more than $5,000 per dose, and its efficacy against anthrax is unproven. The U.S. government is currently the only known purchaser of the drug , McCaskill said.

“I am concerned that Mr. Danzig’s role in the development of the Material Threat Assessment may have improperly influenced the government’s assessment of the need to acquire anthrax countermeasures,” McCaskill’s letters read.

The drug, raxibacumab injection, is a monoclonal antibody targeting the protective antigen (PA) component of the lethal toxin of Bacillus anthracis, the cause of anthrax.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved raxibacumab last December. The approval of the anthrax drug was sped through the process when the FDA gave it fast track designation.

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- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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