Such a deal!
The holier than thou Obama administration does it again, and you have to give it credit for loyalty to a friend – or, maybe they know which side of the bread is buttered, which could be interpreted as greasing the palms of friends and donors.
Dang! It always comes down to money and when you’re talking about politics, rest assured politicians benefit, donors benefit and the taxpayers foot the bill and get the shaft.
This time it’s not TARP money, bank bailouts, stimulus money or the still-simmering Solyndra scandal.
This time it’s medical and it’s slipped below the media radar, except for a terrific investigation by the Los Angeles Times.
Too bad, because the American taxpayers need to know since they’ll be paying for it.
Then again, when has the “need to know” influenced what’s reported and what’s ignored?
Apparently Obama and his administration pulled out all the stops to award a $433 million contract for a new drug to a company controlled by a top Democratic Party donor.
How about that?!?
When you know the drug isn’t really needed, has never been tested for efficacy or safety for humans, isn’t tested on animals because the results wouldn’t relate to humans – it makes you wonder what’s going on, except of course, money and politics and – dare I even think it – political payoffs?!
What drug? An experimental smallpox drug from Siga Technology.
Smallpox? Yes, smallpox, which was literally eradicated worldwide in 1978 because of vaccinations.
Today, the only known repositories of the virus are locked up in government labs in Russia and the United States.
Inasmuch as the U.S. already stockpiles more than $1 billion worth of the traditional vaccine (at $3 a dose) – enough for the entire U.S. population – spending money for a new, untested drug is even more questionable.
However, the administration says smallpox is one of 12 possible diseases that could be a biological weapon.
And so, the quietly announced deal for ST-246, a pill to be taken after a smallpox diagnosis.
During contract negotiations, government watchdogs questioned the lack of testing and the expense.
The company wanted $255 a dose. Medical people said that was too expensive, since it’s untested and unneeded.
In the Los Angeles Times expose, medical opinions of the proposal were blunt.
Epidemiologist Dr. Donald A. Henderson said, “We’ve got a vaccine that I hope we never have to use – how much more do we need?”
Another epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas M. Mack of the USC School of Medicine, called the plan to purchase Siga’s drug “a waste of time and a waste of money.”
Dr. Richard J. Hatchett, chief medical officer for Health and Human Service’s Biodefense Preparedness Unit, called Siga’s projected 180 percent profit, “outrageous” and, in another e-mail, said, no government-contracting officer “would sign a three-digit profit percentage.”
No matter. The fix was in
Presidential appointee Dr. Nicole Lurie, head of biodefense planning, saw to it that the troublesome government negotiator was replaced. She’s quoted as writing to SIGA CEO Dr. Eric Rose, “I trust this will be satisfactory to you.”
But the real cronyism was at the top. Billionaire Ronald Perelman controls Siga. He invested in it in 2003, bought the rights to ST246 and also got $23.5 million in grants and contracts to develop it.
With only one potential buyer, the U.S. government, it was a sweet deal, lubricated by spending $800,000-plus lobbying and pouring money into Democrat political coffers.
Research, by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that Perelman and MacAndrews & Forbes, a Siga affiliate, gave nearly $608,000 to 2008 and 2010 elections with 65 percent to Democrats.
Perelman, individually, gave $50,000 to Obama’s inauguration bash.
And for extra insurance, Obama’s buddy – Andrew Stern, was named to the Siga board of directors. He’s the former head of the Service Employees International Union who has easy access to the Oval Office and top administration officials, plus influence on the millions the union spends on Democrat campaigns.
The sweet deal seemed to be a lock until North Carolina’s Chimerix Inc. objected, saying SIGA was too big to get the contract, which is supposed to go to a small business.
That may have been the guideline, but Obama and his guys overruled it, blocking Chimerix from bidding again, turning it into a non-compete deal, saying the drug was needed in five years and only Siga could do it.
Siga stuck to the $255 a dose and a $433 million contract, with more available under possible options.
That’s $255 a dose for an untested, unproven drug, which has a shelf life of just 38 months.
At that time, the entire stockpile would have to be replaced – at $255 a dose.
Sounds like a money machine to me.
Remember, the regular Smallpox vaccine, of which we have millions of doses, remains potent for decades and costs just $3 a dose.
It looks like Siga, Perelman and his buddies will be siphoning money from the public trough for decades while the Democratic Party will be the recipient of what looks to be a permanent blank check.
It’s all about political pull and money, and it hasn’t hurt that the top guy is buds with Obama – he of the honest and transparent administration, who wants to get re-elected.
What was that he said about change?