Obama Stockpiled $463M in Smallpox Drug in Case of Bio-terror

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 10:24 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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Depending on which expert you talk to, the U.S. either got a bargain when it snapped up 2 million doses of a smallpox medicine for use in a possible bio-attack or it got fleeced to the tune of $463 million.

That amounts to some $200 each to treat up to 2 million Americans in the event of a large-scale attack on U.S. soil, The New York Times reports. But smallpox has been eradicated since 1980 with the last of the virus samples believed to be in goverment hands in the U.S. and Russia.

Approved only by the Food and Drug Administration for use in emergencies, the drug called Arestvyr prevents the spread of smallpox by containing the initial infected cells. Arestvyr can be taken over the course of two weeks along with a smallpox vaccine, according to the publication.

But some experts disagree whether the purchase of the drug was needed at all.

It was developed by Siga Technologies, which is controlled by billionaire Ronald O. Perelman.

Bioweapons expert Dr. Richard H. Ebright of Rutgers University told the Times that the country has increased its stockpile of smallpox vaccine from 15 million to 300 million doses over the past decade.

“Is it appropriate to stockpile it? Absolutely,” Ebright explained. “Is it appropriate to stockpile two million doses? Absolutely not. Twenty thousand seems like the right number.”

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