ANTHRAX: Audit Says Vaccine Maker in Need of Bailout
An audit of the only American producer of the anthrax vaccine claims the company wasted millions on office renovations and travel and consultation fees and now is in need of a government bailout. Ordered by the Pentagon Inspector General's Office, the fiscal probe of Michigan-based BioPort Corp. reported "substantial doubt" that the firm could fulfill its commitments to produce vaccine "without further relief." In December, BioPort said it needed $13 million to cover overhead costs, while in January, the company predicted an end-of-the-year $18 million shortfall (Stone, USA Today, 4/13). Last year, the Pentagon appropriated $24.1 million in bailout assistance for BioPort. But BioPort disputed allegations that it was now in the red and said it had no plans to ask for more funding. Company spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney added, "I've been assured we do not foresee any financial difficulties going forward." BioPort has yet to produce a usable anthrax vaccine, but the price of the inoculation has already jumped from the original figure of $2.92 per dose to $10.64 per dose. Military officials have defended the subsidies, saying they were "but a fraction of the $291 billion Pentagon budget and that the benefit of keeping service members safe far outweighs the costs" (Weiser, AP/Detroit News, 4/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.