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The $443 Million Smallpox Vaccine That Nobody Needs

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the always-be-prepared dept.

Medicine 290

Hugh Pickens writes "Once feared for its grotesque pustules and 30% death rate, smallpox was eradicated worldwide as of 1978 and is known to exist only in the locked freezers of a Russian scientific institute and the US government. There is no credible evidence that any other country or a terrorist group possesses smallpox, but if there were an attack, the government could draw on $1 billion worth of smallpox vaccine it already owns to inoculate the entire US population and quickly treat people exposed to the virus. The vaccine, which costs the government $3 per dose, can reliably prevent death when given within four days of exposure. David Williams writes that 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. So why did the government award a "sole-source" procurement to Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, calling for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation's biodefense stockpile at a price of approximately $255 per dose. 'We've got a vaccine that I hope we never have to use — how much more do we need?' says epidemiologist Dr. Donald A. Henderson who led the global eradication of smallpox for the WHO. 'The bottom line is, we've got a limited amount of money.'"

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290 comments

Does this really qualify for slashdot material? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092564)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 2003, a little boy named Cody was walking down the sidewalk and going to the store. Suddenly, he was transported to a large dark alley. His clothes weren't transported with him! He heard evil laughter and whispers from all around him. He began running to look for an exit whilst thinking about the two entities that were chasing him. Then, to his horror, he tripped and fell face-first on the ground and could no longer move a single cheek!

He then felt two entities jump on both of his bootyasscheeks. Then, his vision was transported elsewhere and he found himself staring at his own body as if he was looking at himself through a security camera. The two entities were toys! He saw the toys get ready to jump up his butt after saying, "Reaaaaady?" However, just before they could jump into his bootyass, a strange figure appeared in the darkness and said, "Wait! Use this!"

The toys replied, "Whaaaaaat dooooooes iiiiiiit dooooooo?" The strange man said, "Iiiiiiiiiit puuuuuuuts iiiiiit uuuuuup hiiiiiis buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutt!" Then, a strange machine appeared out of nowhere, moved its arm, and dropped a counterfeit US quarter into Cody's bootyass! It inflicted tremendous amounts of tickle upon his bootyass, and it sounded like a quarter going down a slot machine!

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), the strange man will use his machine to insert counterfeit US quarters into your bootyass (thereby inflicting ridiculous amounts of tickle upon it)! To prevent this from happening, post this curse as a comment three times.

Re:Does this really qualify for slashdot material? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092652)

This is why I hate you.

Re:Does this really qualify for slashdot material? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092814)

It's true! I read this comment but didn't post it. Three days later, I graduated from Penn State!

Re:Does this really qualify for slashdot material? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092918)

+! troll got cleverly trolled :D
I've been looking for a job. Maybe in three days, I'll get one... ;P
-os

Re:Does this really qualify for slashdot material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093334)

tl;dr

News for nerds?? (-1, Troll)

Meshach (578918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092572)

Is this really /. material that needs to be on the front page?

Re:News for nerds?? (4, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092712)

Why not?

If it were a Republican president this would be considered fair posting for Slashdot.

(Gimme those troll points.) :-{=

Re:News for nerds?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092876)

If it were a Republican President, nobody would mention it, and Fox News would scream that anybody daring to question it was a Communist, a Traitor and hated Jesus who called upon us to heal the Lepers!

Re:News for nerds?? (1, Troll)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093166)

If it were a Republican President, nobody would mention it, and Fox News would scream that anybody daring to question it was a Communist, a Traitor and hated Jesus who called upon us to heal the Lepers!

Actually, the closest anyone has come to saying stuff like that would be Joe Biden calling the Tea Party terrorists, or good old Jimmy Hoffa declaring war on them, but thanks for playing.

Re:News for nerds?? (5, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093104)

You're just being partisan.

Real trolling would be pointing out that the whole premise of universal healthcare is that the collective wisdom of the government can make better decisions about how to spend money on health than individuals can. Yet here we have the same government blowing a billion dollars on a vaccine for a disease that doesn't exist any more. Meanwhile, people are suffering and dying because the FDA is holding up lifesaving experimental medicine.

Re:News for nerds?? (5, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093204)

The whole description is being partisan, and ignorant, and incomplete.

A) The government hasn't approved this.
B) The VA system is government run and it's one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
C) Pretty much every universal healthcare is better the what we have now.

Re:News for nerds?? (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093288)

The whole description is being partisan, and ignorant, and incomplete.

A) The government hasn't approved this. B) The VA system is government run and it's one of the best healthcare systems in the world. C) Pretty much every universal healthcare is better the what we have now.

Most of the arguments against an American universal healthcare system are based on the idea that *this* government wouldn't do a good job even if various European nations handle it well. If you consider other federal projects and programs to be a track record, it's difficult to argue against this. If you think this one thing is somehow unique and special, that people who display extreme corruption/cronyism and gross incompetence will somehow perform wonderfully when you put them in charge of a health system, please understand that you are proposing something contrary to reasonable expectation and there is a burden of proof that goes with that.

I notice in the EU corporations with business practices hostile to the customers actually do get slapped down once in a while by the regulators. If that were the norm here, I would have a lot more confidence that the government is representing the correct set of interests when it takes action. The situation in the USA is not a matter of whether such a system could work in theory or has worked for others. It's a matter of trust; there is none, and trust is a particularly difficult thing to earn back once it is destroyed.

Re:News for nerds?? (0, Flamebait)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093538)

Most of the arguments against an American universal healthcare system are based on the idea that *this* government wouldn't do a good job even if various European nations handle it well.

We are talking about the same Europe which is currently going bankrupt because it ran out of other people's money to pay for its welfare state, right? Not another Europe that I previously wasn't aware of?

Re:News for nerds?? (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093494)

Really? You're going to go there?

The problem is, individuals aren't able to decide how to spend money on health care so would you rather have the government deciding on your behalf or an insurance company (keeping in mind an insurance company makes more money by finding ways to screw you)?

Thanks Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092598)

I wish he would stop doing whatever the pharmaceutical business tells him to do. Or what any other lobbyist tells him to do.

I voted for him, and I'll vote for him again because all the other options are insane, but he's SO damn corrupt.

Re:Thanks Obama (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093322)

Obama is corrupt, but you would still vote for him instead of Ron Paul who wants to cut taxes, get rid of income tax, cut departments that don't serve a purpose, and cut overseas military spending?

Re:Thanks Obama (2)

webnut77 (1326189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093386)

Obama is corrupt, but you would still vote for him instead of Ron Paul who wants to cut taxes, get rid of income tax, cut departments that don't serve a purpose, and cut overseas military spending?

Obviously you haven't heard this [youtube.com]

AHA! I know what this is! (4, Insightful)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092636)

Person 1 wants money, and person 2 wants to give it to them. Person 2 has lots of money to spend that he's trusted with by other people, so he can't just give the money to person 1, so he comes up with a way to include it as part of a bigger deal that looks like business.

Sounds like the textbook definition of corruption I learned in macro econ in highschool. This clumsy scheme is just above obvious, too. I guess it works so well with Chertoff and Rapiscan, hell, why even try to hide it anymore?

Wallstreet should get a clue - they don't need to create 5 layers of finiancial instruments to hide corruption anymore - this is 2011. The govt does whatever the hell it wants, and if you don't like it the media will paint you to be an unwashed mass who needs "to get a job".

Sorry, I started to vent a little there.

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092944)

It has more to do with "the Obama Administration" than Wall Street, clearly.

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (1, Funny)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092990)

Hanlon's razor strikes again.

(Cheat sheet: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093042)

Hanlon's razor strikes again. (Cheat sheet: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)

(Revised cheat sheet: Never explain to the lazy that which can be instantly looked up via Google. Really, it only validates and encourages them. Heaven forbid if anyone learned anything on their own such as learning not to be helpless!)

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093304)

This cannot be adequately explained by mere stupidity

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093236)

Sounds like the textbook definition of corruption I learned in macro econ in highschool.

You may have studied something called "macro economics," but aside from the fact that corruption is part of finance law, and even the effects of it are governed by micro-economics, all you've actually learned seems to be, "herp derp derp, everyone's corrupt and scheming, herp derp derp, I'm wise and saavy."

Re:AHA! I know what this is! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093272)

except that's no what is happening.

I actually know a lot about this; which is why I was hesitant to even read the replies hare on /. That article is misleading, and /. knee jerk interpretation is wrong.

It's like watching CSI shows deal with anything IT related, so stupid it's actually hard to watch.

Time travel (3, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092642)

Obviously this is proof that time travel has been discovered by the military and there is a fear that someone will bring back small pox.

Re:Time travel (5, Interesting)

expatriot (903070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092984)

google "synthesis of smallpox". Bringing it back is easy. Smallpox has an interesting combination of infectiousness, fatality rate, and countermeasures. My guess is that a weponized smallpox could be done for 10-20 million.

Stop posting anti Obama articles....you know bette (2, Interesting)

bricko (1052210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092678)

Stop posting all these anti Obama articles.....they are not supposed to be covered. You need to call the New York TImes to get your daily meme that they are pushing. You have lost the narrative when you start letting people know whats really going on. thanks...thats all for now.

Re:Stop posting anti Obama articles....you know be (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093054)

The fact that people call out the Obama administration on things they do wrong without cries of "OMG HE'S HALF NIGGER, THE WURST KIND OF NIGUR" directed at the man heading the administration, to me, indicates the human race may be getting somewhere (slowly).
--os

Pickens Plan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092714)

Shouldn't you be tricking us into poisoning our water and air with natural gas fracking, Mr Pickens?

1978 isn't that long ago, and nuclear materials have been known to migrate out of Russia from time to time.

Besides, if Small Pox only existed in 2 places then how did this company develop the vaccine?

Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (5, Insightful)

undeadbill (2490070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092732)

"Siga's drug, an antiviral pill called ST-246, would be used to treat people who were diagnosed with smallpox too late for the vaccine to help. Yet the new drug cannot be tested for effectiveness in people because of ethical constraints — and no one knows whether animal testing could prove it would work in humans."

The disease has a lot of characteristics that make it a good weaponized agent. In fact, this has been one of the most studied diseases in that regard. To my knowledge, there is no known treatment/cure for smallpox- you either get vaccinated before symptoms show, or you suffer through it and possibly die. Its means of infection are well known, and I would hazard a guess that someone in the US DoD would find a smallpox *treatment/cure* that works after an infection has taken hold something worth studying for other purposes. It would also seem to me that the military is hedging its bets my making sure other nations don't get this technology as well.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (5, Insightful)

john.r.strohm (586791) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093014)

No, smallpox does NOT make a good weaponized agent.

One of the key attributes of a bioweapon is controllability. You want it to hit who and where you want it to hit, and you DON'T want it to hit outside that area. In particular, you DON'T want it to be significantly contagious - and smallpox is one of the most horribly contagious diseases known to Man.

Pneumonic anthrax, on the other hand, while highly lethal, is essentially not contagious from person to person. This makes it an ideal bioweapon candidate, as was demonstrated some years back - and they STILL haven't found the $^%#&%$!!! who did it.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093108)

Depends on what your goal is. If you want to kill as many people as possible it sounds like a great weapon.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093360)

You seen terrorists lately? You think they wouldnt just unleash it in America and take their chances that enough of the middle east doesnt get infected?

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093394)

You lack imagination. Small pox dispersal would cause a lot of problems, and if you are the one dispersing it, you simple shut your borders while it spreads.
Of course, a vaccine would be made pretty quick, so you would reap it's benefits.
Or you create a vaccine before dispersal.

This assume you actual are about who gets it. Maybe you just want to bring death to all infidels because, clearly, your god would protect you.
Well not YOU, but who ever did it.

Al Qaeda did the anthrax attacks. It's pretty much confirmed.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (2, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093418)

No, smallpox does NOT make a good weaponized agent.

One of the key attributes of a bioweapon is controllability. You want it to hit who and where you want it to hit, and you DON'T want it to hit outside that area. In particular, you DON'T want it to be significantly contagious - and smallpox is one of the most horribly contagious diseases known to Man.

Pneumonic anthrax, on the other hand, while highly lethal, is essentially not contagious from person to person. This makes it an ideal bioweapon candidate, as was demonstrated some years back - and they STILL haven't found the $^%#&%$!!! who did it.

That didn't stop the early American government from using it as a biological weapon against the Native Americans. Those individuals were evil and they were cowards so they exposed blankets and other items to the virus and then "donated" them to the indigenous tribes.

Now imagine a scenario like that but with modern technology (i.e. delivery methods). Controllability could be as simple as "we have a military budget and easy access to vaccines, drugs, and haz-mat suits while our targets don't."

There just aren't a lot of reasons why you'd worry this much and spend so much money on a virus that generally doesn't exist anymore.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (2, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093466)

Smallpox dies in a couple of days on a blanket.

But keep repeating the myth.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093430)

It does if you want a doomsday deterrent a la MAD. It also does if you want to quickly wipe out the population of target country/region, and then take it over with your inoculated, immune people.

Re:Smallpox is extinct in the wild, not entirely. (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093018)

I wish I had mod points. A quick check on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] shows that this is in fact (quite likely) a cure (NOT a vaccine) with no serious side effects. Of a virus. That is worth money to study. AFAIK no-one actually has a cure for pretty much any virus yet (although there are some pretty effective drugs now). If this can in fact do that, then that is definitely worth it. Especially since the vaccine wouldn't work after symptoms show, meaning a lot of people would probably die from an outbreak.

Not so simple (5, Informative)

NeverWorker1 (1686452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092750)

While this does sound like shady dealing, there are legitimate reasons to build a stockpile of an alternate vaccine. The current one is not without its risks and side effects that significantly limit the population to whom it can be safely administered [wikipedia.org] . In particular, they've had to stop immunizing first responders because of the risk. When the WHO was using ring vaccination to eradicate the disease, they accepted that a on the order of 1 in 1,000 would die from the vaccine. Obviously that's something we would like to avoid if possible.

Re:Not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092872)

I believe I read elsewhere that this vaccine has a limited shelf life (2 years or so?)

Remember Variolation? (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093128)

Your mentioning of the death rate for the ring vaccination reminded me of variolation, the earliest known deliberate vaccination method for smallpox.

Variolation had a death rate of 1-2%. But 'wild caught' smallpox had a death rate of around 30%, so even royalty variolated their kids as the safest alternative.

We're absolutely spoiled in modern society when it comes to disease. It used to be the #1 killer. Disease used to kill more soldiers in campaigns than the fighting did.

Re:Remember Variolation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093220)

Alright, then, if we can choose who the 1 in 1,000 is, you volunteer to be "it", right?

Re:Remember Variolation? (4, Interesting)

ediron2 (246908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093240)

As a former (and probably future) volunteer first responder, I'm ok with us (government of/by/for the people) spending an extra $250 for my old coworkers' vaccines, rather than kill even one in TENS of thousands of first responders..

This story smells like more 'how to lie with statistics' by some reactionary rightwing think tank. Typical day on slashdot, alas.

Huwha? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093486)

It's not a vaccine for first responders though. By some readings, it's not even a true vaccine, not being intended to provide immunity before catching the disease.

I'm also fine with giving first responders vaccines for stuff that they're fairly unlikely to encounter. Still, I think we need to consider the likelihood that smallpox will either somehow be released (perhaps by an unknown store), or redevelop in the wild. The first is fairly unlikely at this point, and the second would most likely simply be a similar virus – but one that isn’t affected by current vaccines. Don't forget that when it comes to terrorists, hearing that we have enough vaccine stockpiled for every american can be a reason to NOT bother with using it as a weapon. So just possessing the vaccine can be a deterant. Same idea with US units all being equipped for chemical warfare - our enemies are not as likely to try it in the first place.

As such, one needs to consider the monetary effectiveness of this move. Why? We still have limited dollars. $443M might be better spent(IE saving more lives) towards finally eliminating polio, treating obesity, as AIDS research, etc I think it's a legitimate question.

Re:Remember Variolation? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093424)

But with further cuts to 'wasteful' government, we can return to the good ol' days. Diseases, Rober barons, factory fires, and toxic sludge dump into the drink water. As an added bonus, the people won't have recourse.

Re:Not so simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093150)

While this does sound like shady dealing, there are legitimate reasons to build a stockpile of an alternate vaccine. The current one is not without its risks and side effects that significantly limit the population to whom it can be safely administered [wikipedia.org] . In particular, they've had to stop immunizing first responders because of the risk. When the WHO was using ring vaccination to eradicate the disease, they accepted that a on the order of 1 in 1,000 would die from the vaccine. Obviously that's something we would like to avoid if possible.

Why do you keep talking about humans as though there aren't plenty of them?

We've got LOTS of people on the planet. We can afford to be selective. What humanity really needs more than anything is some kind of predator that eats us, something that wouldn't stand a chance against a fit human in a fair fight so it has to get the drop on you and catch you unawares. You know all those oblivious idiots who can't handle the task of watching where the hell they're walking or driving? Along with the morbidly obese, they're the most expendable! And the rich fat-cats who never really had to struggle for anything in their lives would have to watch out, finally. Such a predator would be doing us a big favor.

With the drooling masses of idiots out of the way maybe we can start having elected officials who justify their actions with a rational basis. And the roadways will be much more pleasant and less hazardous to drive on. With the lard-asses dead and eaten there will be so much more space to make use of in stores and sidewalks. And with stupidity/obliviousness being a fatal condition, we can finally stop pretending like there's anything special about celebrities and athletes. It would all but eliminate welfare and much of law enforcement and most taxes. Damn, it would be HEAVEN ON EARTH.

Re:Not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093370)

Its already saved one life from the vaccine and the boy contracted the virus from his father. Link [boston.com]

Re:Not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093388)

All vaccines have side effects, some more severe than the others.
I see 2 possible explanations :
- this company somehow directly or indirectly made some financial contributions to the key players who are pushing this plan.
- What is some dark forces in the American intelligence world have created a different strain of smallpox that the current vaccine can't deal with?
    Military grade Anthrax was released after 911 in an attempt to terrorize the population and targeting opponents of the Bush/Cheney camp.
    Swine flu and other recently outbreaks bear all traces of being designer viruses. So ask yourself if it is a sign of something that might be waiting for us.....

   

Drug != Vaccine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092754)

Not a vaccine, an untested treatment for late-stage smallpox. We have a like a billion ampules of vaccines stashed away as it is. But Vaccinia lasts for 40 years on ice, this drug will last 3.

Why (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092774)

Because the Obama administration is the most corrupt presidency in modern history.

Re:Why (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092908)

Because the Obama administration is the most corrupt presidency in modern history.

It's like he took "Can't be worse than Bush" as a challenge.

Re:Why (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093056)

Bwahahahah! Oh you sweet, benighted thing, if you think Obama is the most corrupt presidency in U.S. history. This doesn't even scratch the fucking surface, dude. Look up Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, or Reagan.

Hell, Cheney's relationships with KBR and Haliburton alone stand as a high water mark in corruption.

Re:Why (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093472)

Hell, Cheney's relationships with KBR and Haliburton alone stand as a high water mark in corruption.

The fact that you didn't know that KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton when Cheney was VP or that Halliburton has two L's, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you really have no clue as to what you are talking about. For that matter, the very fact that you believe something is compelling evidence that the opposite is true.

But, yes, Cheney did have extensive ties with Halliburton. It's kinda hard not to when you are CEO of the company.

Bullshit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092784)

The government puts the vaccine to use regularly. The fill up airplanes with it and the resulting chemtrails are what give people autism.

WAKE UP, PEOPLE.

Tinfoil hats and tinfoil everything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092798)

<crazyperson>
The US are going to launch a smallpox virus and infect people, then use that money to cure them, then everyone will thank them for being proactive!
</crazyperson>

But really, it is barely a scratch on the military budget. I know this and I'm not even American.

Corruption is only news... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38092850)

...when Democrats do it. Never mind a certain $3T war with lots of tasty no-bid contracts to the Vice President's company...

Re:Corruption is only news... (2)

MightyMait (787428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092930)

Mod parent up (AC or not). From what others have said, it looks like this drug might not be a bad thing to have. Even if it wasn't necessary, almost half a billion is peanuts next to what's been spent on a war of dubious merit since 9/11.

Re:Corruption is only news... (4, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093142)

Yeah, but at $255 per dose? On a drug that hasn't even been tested? This has "corporate handjob" written all over it.

Re:Corruption is only news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093290)

Hey, don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of slashing our (US) military budget by 2/3 or more (and I don't think we'd be any less secure if we did so). I'm just trying to put the figure into perspective (rather, echo the AC who did so).

I also have big problems with Big Pharma and the way they do business, but is $255/dose really that atypical for a new treatment? Especially when drugs are under patent protection, it seems companies charge as much as the market will bear to recoup their development costs and reap some profit.

A quick Google search turned up this article about an MS treatment that costs $30,000 per year (no per dose cost listed).

http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/study-examines-high-drug-costs-vs-benefits-for-m-s-patients/

Re:Corruption is only news... (1)

webnut77 (1326189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093530)

A quick Google search turned up this article about an MS treatment that costs $30,000 per year (no per dose cost listed).

I knew MicroSoft was an infection but thought it only cost about $120 per seat.

Re:Corruption is only news... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093490)

...when Democrats do it. Never mind a certain $3T war with lots of tasty no-bid contracts to the Vice President's company...

Oh, then that makes it OK.

Change (1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092890)

Thanks Obama for all the meaningful change!

Re:Change (5, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093496)

Did you read the article?
no, of course you didn't.

Do you know why they particular cure is valuable?
no, of course you don't.

". In June, the government settled the dispute by dropping the exclusivity provision. That limited the value of Siga's contract to $433 million and meant that other companies could compete to fill future orders for the drug."

So they stopped it from being the runaway expense and exclusive deal that Bush sought for them. But, lets blame Obama, cause we think he makes every decision there is. Lets ignore the fact that the company gave to both sides.

Why Keep Smallpox? (1)

BuildMonkey (585376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092948)

Given that we have the DNA sequence for smallpox [google.com] , can someone please tell me why, oh why, do we keep this deadly virus [wikipedia.org] around AT ALL? I was vaccinated for smallpox, but my two younger brothers lack the tell-tale scar [google.com] . Given that immunity fades after between 3 and 50 years, with 3 to 5 years being typical, any release of smallpox into the wild would have devastating worldwide consequences. So, tell me again why we keep live virus in the fridge?

Re:Why Keep Smallpox? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093082)

Are you sure that the only samples left in existence are those in government fridges, or that it's impossible for a new outbreak to occur from some natural reservoir?

Re:Why Keep Smallpox? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093514)

We still give it to soldier going to certain places over seas. Lets not forget that small pox evolved, and there is no reason it couldn't come back from a similar evolutionary pressure or events.

Consider the source (5, Informative)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092954)

Before you all get upset about this, consider that there's probably more to the story. The source is Commentary Magazine, whose headlines right now are:

"National Cost of “Occupation” to Top $12 Million"

"Toomey Offers Democrats a Way Out of Supercommittee Standoff"

"Warren Backs Away From OWS"

"Police Reportedly Slashed, Attacked With Liquid at OWS"

Etc. I don't know anything about this story myself, but I know enough by this point not to just believe people when they say something bad happened at the hands of "the Obama administration."

Re:Consider the source (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093384)

Oh my God, the cost of the Occupation is $12 million! That's, like, 3.4 cents per person! WE CAN'T AFFORD THAT!

Re:Consider the source (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093520)

Granted what you say may be true.
However, an alternate explanation would be that only peripheral media outlets - not being in the tank for the current administration - would carry such a story.

Remember, nobody believed the Monica Lewinsky story at first, because it was on this stupid blog called the Drudge Report.

Americans are bad at math (2, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092958)

Please see this [youtube.com] video. Long story short, $443 million isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Now, $70 billion in tax cuts for the rich? Well, we're starting to talk some real money. The cost of the Iraq war? Yeah, about that...

Re:Americans are bad at math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093052)

I love the logic that not taking in money == an expense.

I didn't give a homeless guy $1 today, does that mean I stole $1 from him?

Re:Americans are bad at math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093528)

I think it has something to do with the need for taking in money to b >= expense. When people are deep in debt cutting expenses can only go so far. Sometimes you have to cut expenses and get a second job to dig yourself out of a hole. When the government gets a second job it's called raising taxes/closing loopholes. The trick is you have to cut spending too. But right now we have the country divided into some kind of either or but not both proposition. Hence the obvious dysfunction in solving our problems.

Re:Americans are bad at math (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093094)

So, because there exist numbers larger than the sum in discussion, we should never bother with it ? This may be smaller than the military budget, but is not a small number by any measure. This is not five bucks we're talking about. I will not make this much money in my entire life. You won't either, since you invoked "the rich" argument.

The government is a like a sieve, leaking money to interested parties everywhere. 400 million here, 500 million for solar power, some more for body scanners, hey, shit adds up. And we're paying for all of it. But I guess according to you, we should stop bringing up every instance of corruption because there are other more corrupt practices out there.

Re:Americans are bad at math (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093106)

So it's fine to piss away $443mn because it's less than $70bn?

Re:Americans are bad at math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093318)

So it's fine to piss away $443mn because it's less than $70bn?

So it's fine to piss away $443mn because it's less than $70bn?

Note, but it points out a very human trait - the concept of "low hanging fruit". $70bn is a a much larger target with larger gains compared to $443mn.

Re:Americans are bad at math (5, Insightful)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093536)

So it's fine to piss away $443mn because it's less than $70bn?

Do you code? If I'm trying to improve the performance of a program I've written, I might notice little things here and there that could be done a bit faster. For example, I might have be saying pow(x, 2) someplace, and I know that for integers, it's far more efficient to just type x*x. I'm not wrong, that would be faster. And yet, if I waste any time fixing that type of stuff, I'm an idiot. You profile the program, you find the sections where your code is spending the most time on, and you fix that. If the profiler is telling you that the pow function is the problem, then you fix it. Otherwise I've spent a lot of time fixing things and my code will still perform super-slow.

It's not fine to piss away $443 mn. That said, it's also not fine to waste resources trying to fix that problem when there are bigger problems to be fixed. Fix the bigger problems first, then go back to the $443mn when it actually does represent a significant portion of the problem. Otherwise you waste a lot of time only to discover we're still just as broke.

Re:Americans are bad at math (0)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093300)

Please see this [youtube.com] video. Long story short, $443 million isn't a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Now, $70 billion in tax cuts for the rich? Well, we're starting to talk some real money. The cost of the Iraq war? Yeah, about that...

66% of federal outlays are direct payments to individuals... not tax cuts, not war, we're putting our children in debt writing ourselves checks.

Grammar (1)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38092960)

So why did the government award a "sole-source" procurement to Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, calling for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation's biodefense stockpile at a price of approximately $255 per dose. ... does not computer....

Re:Grammar (2)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093098)

Because Siga is the only company offering such a drug. It's hard not to sole source something when there's only a sole source.

Re:Grammar (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093132)

Oh, I don't know...for the same reason the government gave sole source contract for Anthrax vaccine to the company owned and/or run by former Bush (the First) people? Same company that had problems keeping the FDA out of its hair for production problems, as well as problems staying afloat, before it got that contract? Oh, but that was OK, I suppose... R = OK, D = Bad. Check.

Re:Grammar (1)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093580)

i re-posted the sentence from the article. it just sounds dumb. it starts as a question! i don't give a shit about the vaccine.

Hope and change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093024)

Would you like a side of small pox vaccine with that today?

It isn't a vaccine (4, Insightful)

purduefan (604889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093036)

This isn't an article about a second vaccine. It is about a drug that we don't know will work, that costs a lot, and will expire before it is ever used.

Obama is the most corrupt president (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093136)

Obama is the most corrupt president, except for every fucking Republican President since Ike.

Who we really need 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093164)

While it's good to have an insurance policy, it's insurance to an unlikely but deadly event. Do we really need to spend that much money to cover 100% of the population? I would imagine 25-35% would be enough as quarantine can help limit the scope. While large areas can be affected, it would be difficult to do a fully coordinated attack on the entire US.In the meantime, the US still be doing as much to prevent the spread and actual attack while ramping up production of the vaccine.

In terms of cost effectiveness, I'd rather have them have a small stock pile of insurance and instead invest in manufacturing plants that can be quickly adjusted to manufacture a number of vaccines. These plants can easily be leased off for regular medicine making for cheap on the stipulation that in the state of emergency, full control is taken away. There are LOTS of deadly diseases out there. Having to have insurance against all of them is simply gonna be an ever increasing cost.

If They're That Worried About It (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093242)

Why not just bring back the smallpox vaccine as a standard vaccination for children, and recommend booster shots for adults every decade or so? The military and their families got them regularly back when I was a boy, and I still have the scars to prove it. Not that I'd be keen to rely on a decades-old vaccination if push came to shove. We could just have a "You guys are getting a free (And Mandatory) flu and smallpox shot this year" day and then we wouldn't have to worry about that so much.

My comments that the editors disregarded (5, Informative)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093260)

Here are my comments that I attached to this post while it was in slashdot/recent. I guess the editors didn't take much heed.

RTFA

Ok, I know that the LA times is not what I would call the paragon of great journalism but still you should closely RTFA. (Compare the writing in this, where the writer just seems to go on and on reciting facts without concise summarization and a coherent narrative to that of a well written NYTimes piece).

First the fact that these guys "are long time political donors" and "65% of their donations went to the Democratic party in 2008 and 2010" do not automatically make them "longtime Democratic donors". I'm not saying they aren't but don't jump to conclusions (Isn't it possible that these guys, seeing the way the political winds were shifting sent more of their money to the Democrats those years? Also if they gave only 65% to anyone that implies they weren't hardcore supporters, they didn't give 100% did they?).

Second; according to TFA most of the company's actions took place under the Bush administration. The company was formed after Bush made anti-bio weapons preparedness a priority and the Bush administration were the ones who gave the company its grants (did they receive even a dime under the Obama administration?).

Third; again according to TFA, the reason for the "sole source" agreement is because of a regulation otherwise requiring them to be a small business (they aren't, they have more than 500 people). So, according to TFA, that was the reason they had to do this and not because the Bush?/Obama? administration unduly applied pressure.

I could go on and say how, in TFA, some epidemiologists think it's a waste of money and how other, equally credentialed ones say it isn't. Still, please note that it DOES have a use beyond the original vaccine. If you get sick and don't get the original vaccine within four days, this will save you. Otherwise you die. Is that a waste of money? Reasonable people may disagree. (Smallpox the physical virus MAY* be present in only two locations but I believe its DNA sequence was published on the Internet).

Look, maybe the poorly written LA times article caused these mistakes in the summary. But that's what you get when you choose poor journalism. You should be prepared to put in the time and effort to get what is (hopefully) the true story behind the ill-presented facts.

*you could probably retrieve some from someone buried in the arctic prior to say 1950. That's how they retrieved the black plague recently.

Perspective (0)

Zot Quixote (548930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38093310)

Gee, too much vaccine. What an awful problem. Let's impeach Obama!

I hope we never have to find out if this stuff works, but there might be good reasons to stockpile an experimental vaccine that the armchair presidents of slashdot aren't aware of.

Soon everyone will have the Gray Death... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38093412)

...and they'll be begging for Ambrosia.

Bob Page and VersaLife are going to RULE THE WORLD!!!!

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