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December 20, 2006

Comments

Ehh, so why was VaxGen picked in the first place?

Not much of an explanation (a suggestion of cronyism), but here's a little more from Harpers.

Failure? What are you talking about? The gov't returned millions and millions of dollars to the private sector, it's like a tax cut only you don't have to mess with the tax code.

i blame the media. by not telling us all the good things the Bush administration has done, they allowed us to ignore the failures... and now it's too late, and VaxGen's owners are rich!

Wow. Nearly a billion dollars to develop an anthrax vaccine. I just have to get myself into the biotech market.

Just as improving the public health system to handle epidemics better also improves our ability to handle bioterrorism, improving our response to natural disasters also improves our ability to handle non-biological terrorism. We all know how well that has gone.

Isn't this story really about the wisdom of letting the government try to nose its way too far into the creation of pharmaceuticals?

:)

Just kidding. Sort of.

Isn't this story really about the wisdom of letting the government try to nose its way too far into the creation of pharmaceuticals?

no, it's about putting a stake through the heart of one of the right-wing's cherished zombie myths.

not kidding. mostly.

:)

heh. oops. pretend mine and Sebastian's comments were both on the thread below. mine makes more sense that way :)

heh. oops. pretend mine and Sebastian's comments were both on the thread below. mine makes more sense that way :)

I blame that "typepad" fellow.

"When you pick a company that has never successfully produced a drug"

Actually, most biotech companies have never produced a drug.

Vaxgen was originally a spin-out of Genentech, and mostly staffed by ex-Genentech and Amgen employees. Most vaccine production is based on 1950s technology, with little- to no- purification of the product. Vaxgen's process was going to produce 95% pure vaccine, as opposed to the 30% pure current vaccine: less crud to cause side effects. Why FDA were beating them up over stability when the alternative vaccine was so poor I don't know.

"and has serious accounting and management problems and then throw hundreds of millions of dollars at it, it shouldn't be surprising that bad things happen."

Well, DHHS set an almost ludicrous schedule for development - 5 years for delivery versus the ~8-10 years for a typical biotherapeutic. But when Vaxgen went for the contract it was right after their HIV vaccine failed, and they were hungry.

I think the subtext of this is the rivalry between the producer of the previous, non-recombinant vaccine, Bioport, and Vaxgen.

"One would have been to really try to beef up our public health infrastructure, which has been underfunded for decades. Another would have been to try to develop vaccines or treatments to deal with specific agents that might be used in bioterrorist attacks."

I'm curious what exactly you expect the public health infrastructure to respond with if it doesn't have specific treatments or prophylactics against a biologic attack.

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