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Ivins Held Patents On Anthrax 2 Vaccines

From the Los Angeles Times:

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins stood to benefit from a panic

The suspect in deadly mailings, who killed himself this week as the FBI closed in, could have collected patent royalties on an anthrax vaccine.

By David Willman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 2, 2008

Bruce E. Ivins, the government biodefense scientist linked to the deadly anthrax mailings of 2001, stood to gain financially from massive federal spending in the fear-filled aftermath of those killings, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Ivins is listed as a co-inventor on two patents for a genetically engineered anthrax vaccine, federal records show. Separately, Ivins also is listed as a co-inventor on an application to patent an additive for various biodefense vaccines.

Ivins, 62, died Tuesday in an apparent suicide in Maryland. Federal authorities had informed his lawyer that criminal charges related to the mailings would be filed.

As a co-inventor of a new anthrax vaccine, Ivins was among those in line to collect patent royalties if the product had come to market, according to an executive familiar with the matter.

The product had languished on laboratory shelves until the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax mailings, after which federal officials raced to stockpile vaccines and antidotes against potential biological terrorism.

A San Francisco-area biotechnology company, VaxGen, won a federal contract worth $877.5 million to provide batches of the new vaccine. The contract was the first awarded under legislation promoted by President Bush, called Project BioShield.

One executive who was familiar with the matter said that, as a condition of its purchasing the vaccine from the Army, VaxGen had agreed to share sales-related proceeds with the inventors.

“Some proportion would have been shared with the inventors,” said the executive, who spoke anonymously because of contractual confidentiality. “Ivins would have stood to make tens of thousands of dollars, but not millions.”

Ivins also was listed as one of two inventors of another biodefense-related product that has won federal sponsorship

For nearly 30 years, Ivins served far from the limelight, a PhD microbiologist who drew a civil servant’s pay while handling some of the most deadly pathogens on Earth — live spores of anthrax.

The deadly mailings of anthrax-tainted envelopes transported Ivins from the backwater of government scientific research at Ft. Detrick, Md., to the center of the nation’s fledgling war on terrorism. It also spurred multibillion-dollar national security initiatives.

Ivins was thrust into the federal investigation of the mailings as well. He helped the FBI analyze anthrax recovered from a letter addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

He also played a lead role in helping a private company, BioPort, win regulatory approval to continue making the vaccine required for U.S. service personnel deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions…

At a Pentagon ceremony on March 14, 2003, Ivins and two colleagues from USAMRIID were bestowed the Decoration of Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest honor given to nonmilitary employees of the Defense Department

On Friday, Ivins’ lawyer, Paul F. Kemp, defended his client and said that Ivins had cooperated fully with the FBI.

“We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial,” Kemp said, implicitly confirming that Ivins had been about to be formally charged. “The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people. . . . In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”

How thorough was the FBI’s investigation of these anthrax mailings if they didn’t first investigate those who would most obviously benefit from such a panic?

No, it was more important to make it seem like the work of “crazy rightwingers.”

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, August 2nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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