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Reporting from Washington— Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work. Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world's richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.
When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were resisting the company's financial demands, senior officials replaced the government's lead negotiator for the deal, interviews and documents show. When Siga was in danger of losing its grip on the contract a year ago, the officials blocked other firms from competing.
North Korea’s latent nuclear weapons program is rightfully the main point of concern for its neighbors and the international community. But far less publicized is Pyongyang’s ongoing efforts to build upon its capabilities to produce and maintain chemical and biological weapons (CBW).
Siga was trying to get a contract to sell the government 1.7 million doses of smallpox vaccine, but ran into some major problems. For example, their drug is experimental and has never been tested on humans, so no one has any idea of whether or not it works. Then, there’s the fact that smallpox was eradicated, wiped out, back in 1978, except for small samples kept locked away by the Russians and us. And to top it off, Siga wanted $255 per dose, for a total of $433,500,000.