HHS Awards BioShield Contract for Botulism Antitoxin

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded a contract to the Cangene Corporation of Winnipeg, Canada in the amount of $362 million for 200,000 doses of Heptavalent Botulism Antitoxin. The contract runs for five years with product delivery to the Strategic National Stockpile scheduled to begin next year.

Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known to science, said Dr. Gerald Parker, HHS acting assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness. Todays Project BioShield contract award is part of our effort to protect the American public from biological threats.

The number of doses being purchased under the new contract is based on the Department of Homeland Securitys determination that botulinum toxins pose a threat to the U.S. population and the interagency Weapons of Mass Destruction Medical Countermeasures Subcommittees recommendation that heptavalent botulism antitoxin be acquired to improve the nations biodefense preparedness and response capabilities and protect civilians from a potentially lethal exposure to botulinum toxin.

The botulinum neurotoxin disrupts nerve functions which may result in muscle paralysis within hours. Respiratory muscle paralysis can result in death unless assisted (mechanical) ventilation is provided; therefore, the need for rapid diagnosis, access to intensive medical care, and antitoxin is vital. Botulism antitoxin blocks the action of circulating neurotoxin in the bloodstream.

HHS' Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which oversees procurement efforts under the Project BioShield program through its Office of Research and Development Coordination, will manage the contract with Cangene.

Source: HHS