The U.S. government is pumping more money into anthrax bioterror preparedness. Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland biotech that has long partnered with federal authorities on anthrax vaccines, is touting a new $100 million order to deliver doses of an approved shot to the country’s stockpile.
In announcing the new order, Emergent additionally reported that it’s agreed to some changes to a previous $1.6 billion contract—announced in September—that helps pay for development and stockpiling of a new-and-improved anthrax vaccine, NuThrax.
The biotech said the government is requesting more doses at a lower price, and that the total value of the contract was reduced by $100 million to $1.5 billion.
Set for phase 3 testing next year, NuThrax is a combo of Emergent’s older vaccine, BioThrax, and the novel adjuvant CPG 7909. Emergent has said the FDA could approve its new vaccine for emergency use next year, with deliveries to start in 2019.
The biotech’s new two-year, $100 million delivery order for BioThrax comes shortly after the U.S. CDC signed off on a $911 million stockpiling arrangement for the older shot. BioThrax, first approved by the FDA in 1970, remains the only FDA-approved anthrax vaccine.
Through that deal, the biotech will supply about 29.4 million doses through September 2021. The company recently wrapped up a 5-year deal valued at about $1.25 billion to supply 44.75 million doses of the vaccine.
Chasing Emergent in the field is San Diego biotech Pfenex, which won a $143.5 million contract from the feds back in 2015 to support work on a candidate the biotech said can be quickly manufactured and features a convenient dosing schedule. Pfenex is also working on a solid dose anthrax vaccine with $22.9 million in support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.