This story, detailed by David Willman in the LA Times (and blogged by me 4 weeks ago) has now been re-reported (in great detail for television) by CNN. It certainly deserves plenty of scrutiny, especially after SIGA’s stock rose 32% yesterday, supposedly due to board member Fran Townsend’s denying company interference with the contract. DHHS (what a surprise!) even had the temerity to tell CNN that replacing the government’s chief negotiator saved the taxpayer lots of money!
In case you forgot, the issues are these:
SIGA is selling the govt (for $433 million to 2.8 billion) a drug developed with government money to treat smallpox. No one knows if it works. SIGA’s controlling shareholder is Ron Perelman, a billionaire Democratic donor. Contracting requirements were changed several times to ensure SIGA got the contract, and at a very high price.
Former administrations made sweetheart deals for 2 smallpox vaccines, for a total cost over a billion dollars, during the Clinton and Bush administrations. There is enough vaccine for every American in a stockpile. The vaccine works up to 4 days after an exposure. There is no real need for a drug too.
The Obama administration, it appears, did not want to miss out on the opportunity (which generating fear of bioterrorism has provided) to spend huge amounts of taxpayer funds on useless products. At least now a light is shining into the fetid swamp of bioterrorism procurements. SIGA’s is only one of many questionable deals.
UPDATE: SIGA stock down 85% in 2011.