Anthrax :: HHS purchases additional anthrax vaccine for stockpile

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the purchase of 18.75 million doses of BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed, AVA) from Emergent Biodefense Operations of Lansing, Mich., at a total of $448 million.

“One of our top biodefense priorities is medical countermeasures against anthrax,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response RADM Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., USPHS. “Together with the already substantial supply of antibiotics, our nation’s first line of defense against an anthrax attack, this additional AVA anthrax vaccine will further broaden the stockpile’s medical countermeasures.”

In addition to increasing near-term preparedness against the public health threat of anthrax, the contract also requires pursuit of two important improvements to the currently licensed vaccine:

Approval for use as post-exposure prophylaxis, and
Continued improvements to the vaccine’s shelf-life.

The requirement for licensure for use as post-exposure prophylaxis is a critical component of the contract, as this vaccine is primarily stockpiled for use following an anthrax attack. Continued studies for approval of extended shelf-life will improve the utility of this vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile.

This acquisition, in addition to the current stockpile of anthrax vaccine, will allow HHS to maintain a stockpile of at least 10 million doses of anthrax vaccine through 2011. In addition, HHS has two current contracts for the acquisition of anthrax antitoxins, to treat individuals with advanced anthrax disease.

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