CNN reached out to Siga for a statement in response to Drew Griffin’s investigation. They sent this statement:
Republican and Democratic administrations, biodefense policy experts, and the broad scientific community have all agreed that smallpox is and remains a material threat to U.S. national security. Smallpox is lethal, easy to grow in a laboratory and easy to transmit, which places the smallpox virus at the highest threat level (Category A) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of bioterror agents.
The U.S. government determined that there is a need for an antiviral smallpox drug to treat already infected people for which the preventive vaccine currently available would no longer work. Scientific models of smallpox attacks show that hundreds of thousands to millions of Americans could be quickly infected. The government concluded that stockpiling an easily stored and distributed and self-administered treatment in capsule form is an important element of our national defense.
This was not a “no-bid” contract. The government conducted an open solicitation for industry solutions to meet this threat, and SIGA was the only respondent that met the mandatory criteria for procurement of a smallpox antiviral treatment—including successful results in human safety trials and proof of efficacy in primate models. The negotiations and decision to award the contract were handled solely by career procurement officials at HHS who negotiated a fair and reasonable price. SIGA’s drug costs the U.S. government less, and often much less, than just about every comparable drug on the market. Never at any time was any elected or political official asked to intervene in the procurement process by SIGA or anyone affiliated with the company.
Filed under: Drew Griffin • Keeping Them Honest
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The real story here should have been focused on how to motivate drug companies to research and develop safe and effective drugs to treat a small pox outbreak. They aren't even interested in developing new antibiotics in the face of growing numbers of resistant strains of bacteria because of profitability. CNN had this one wrong and Fran was correct. Where was the public health expert, clinician, CDC, WHO? Vaccines prevent, they do not treat. Small pox spreads quickly and has a high mortality rate. If there is an outbreak, then it may already be too late to effectively vaccinate and protect the public. If there are only 2 drugs that have been developed and tested and one is known to cause toxicity and the other doesn't, then which one are you going to choose? And of course, it isn't known to work in humans because neither one can be tested in humans without infecting them. You failed to show the complexities of the disease, developing treatments, or responding to an outbreak. Poor job Anderson Cooper and CNN.
I can't believe most Americans don't take the threat of small pox seriously. If an outbreak happens in the future and we have no vaccine, what will we do? It's one of the most deadliest diseases known to man. I would feel safe to know there is a vaccine out there just in case an outbreak does happen.
CNN should be ashamed for airing a well-done story on Siga and its its political connections which apparently helped it obtain a no-bid contract from HHS that produced outrageously excessive profit margins, and then allowing CNN insider Fran Townsend, a Siga director and full time employee of MacAndrews & Forbes, Siga's principal owner, to sit beside your humiliated-looking correspondent Drew Griffin to pick the story apart while Anderson Cooper sat in judgment. That was a bit like CBS inviting Roy Cohn to sit beside Edward R. Murrow to pick apart Murrow's reporting on Joe McCarthy while William Paley sat in judgment. What were you thinking?
Scientific drug development data of both ST-246 and CMX001 (the other antiviral, whose owners I'm sure are behind all the negative publicity of ST-246) is publically available. From science perspetive, it is clear that ST-246 is years ahead of CMX001 in development.
Your report questioned science without the full background. Your report questioned the price without comparing it with other drug prices... perhaps we should know what HHS spends on stockpiling Tamiflu?
I believe your report unjustly brought out SIGA in a negative light... when the real question is your governments priority in bio-defence... whether the smallpox threat and need for smallpox antiviral is valid... The real people who should be questioned are the BARDA-HHS officials. Are they spending the money responsiblity to counter a smallpox threat? Is 400 million a reasonable price to pay to prepare the country against a real and credible threat of bio-terror with genetically modified smallpox? (and this in comparison with Billions your government spends on Tamiflu for pandemic influenza). If a smallpox outbreak were to happen, you would surely have an AC360 report about how HHS didn't do a good enough job in preparing for such an eventuality!!!
The amount of misinformation going on regarding this contract is astounding. First of Siga’s St-246 is not a vaccine, it is an antiviral. There is a major difference. If you are infected with smallpox, become symptomatic, and try to treat with vaccine, you are dead meat. If you use St-246 in time, you will live…. IT IS A REVOLUTIONARY DRUG AND A CURE FOR SMALLPOX (VARIOLA) and all other orthopox infections. Secondly, while the disease was eradicated from in the 1980’s by the World Health Organization, it IS still a threat because of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, is not science fiction. Do the research and you’ll see for yourself that the genome for variola (smallpox) is readily available in the public domain and can be created in a laboratory setting. This threat is real as well as Siga’s drug. It is a shame to see the facts getting lost in the political rhetoric.
I'll post a peer reviewed scientific paper on efficacy for the doubters, if CNN will let me.
The SIGA situation is another example of the culture of corruption that is Washington.
RE: SIGA Story
Most Americans would support "big government" if only they could trust "big government". At every level (federal, state, local), there is simply too much self-dealing. The tax-payer is cheated, but more importantly, those in dire need of aid are cheated. Prohibitions/restrictions must be implemented to straighten the blurred lines between "public servants" and "lobbyists/business representatives". Rampant conflict of interest (greed) among public officials has destroyed the public trust.
PS: Bringing the SIGA representative on live TV to confront the investigative reporter was brilliant. Not sure she convinced anyone (except the naive) of her position, but that was intelligent and entertaining TV.
Bravo to Drew Griffin for informing the public how their money is being spent, there should be no "No bid Contracts" on amounts this large. Secondly, the vaccine is not proven to work and the US is the only country that bought it? If that doesn't sound like corruption I don't know what does. The Obama administration has to get off their "pharma drugs" and face reality, we don't have any money to waste on favoring our campaign donors. Stop the purchase of "untested Drugs and Vaccines". This is only for profits for pharmas.
I appreciate your exposing what some of us know is fraud, unnecessary spending and greed, and ignorance in making decisions in goverment and corporate matters...i wish, however, to point out that it seems to continue to be women and all those who have been discriminated against who are honest when interviewed, and tend to be more willing to give interviews even if they are situations where blame may be thrown at them....
we are in a new era of honesty and I am grateful for any interviewee who admits what the truth is,
rather than not...tonight's interview, I believe was replied to in honesty, and a few years ago, such an interview would not even have taken place... keep them honest, yet keep ahead:) leila
SIGA is an almost bankrupted company worth $94 million that has been devalued 85% during the past year. SIGA is simply not news worthy.
Fran Townshed would have you believe that she believes what she is saying? I don't believe a word of it.
This was a bad report Anderson. Show us some scientific documentation on the SIGA animal studies that we can draw our own conclusions based on the study and not the politics. If SIGA is correct on their science, the Government made the correct decision.
Glad someone knows something about smallpox and developing antiviral medications for smallpox. If they can't provide the medication they won't be paid. If another powder or aerosolized smallpox virus is delivered to a segment of the US population those citizens and their families aren't going to be quibbling over the cost. And, you cannot wait until the virus is released in the USA to start working on an antiviral medication.
This would be considered an orphan drug and the price will be a whole lot more than a generic aspirin or amoxicillin.
Anyone who has a pulse could tell she was very uneasy about the questions you were asking her. She is walking away with a portion of that massive profit margin. Keep it up AC your the man, not to mention we are very directly related!