The Los Angeles Times breaks a scandalous story of a Pentagon advisor who lined his own pockets while creating an imagined scenario where currently available antibiotics would be ineffective due to germ resistance, requiring a back – up plan – a multi-million dollar drug that has cost $334 million so far. The developed drug, raxibacumab (for short, raxi) costs $5100 per dose, according to the LA Times report.
Called “a horrible conflict of interest,” the scaremonger served as advisor both to government and the developmental drug company, taking money from both sides by conducting seminars that government health authorities attended and gaining fees from the drug company as well. Pentagon authorities say they knew nothing about the consultant’s conflict of interest. The developmental drug company eventually sold to a Big Pharma company for $3.6 billion and the consultant, who had purchased 3000 shares, must have reaped a giant gain.
The consultant to government began to warn of antibiotic resistant strains of anthrax soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 mailings of anthrax-laced letters. The strain of anthrax powder in those letters was not found to be resistant to antibiotics. But the consultant kept sounding false alarms. He said an antibiotic-resistant strain could be cooked be “readily” cooked up by an amateur terrorist. The LA Times report noted that several biodefense scientists claim in interviews that production of resistant anthrax strains would not be easy.
According to the LA Times, the Department of Health & Human Services purchased 20,000 doses of raxi for $174 million and another 45,000 doses in 2009 for $160 million. This would not nearly be enough doses for a population of 300 million vulnerable Americans.
While there are stockpiles of antibiotics in case of public emergencies, they are not likely to be sufficient to protect a large population.
In 2007 it was reported the federal government had 40 million courses of antibiotics in the Strategic National Stockpile.
In the event of a massive public exposure to a toxin like anthrax in the public mail system where even anthrax dust could be spread far and wide and pose a threat to public health, it is obvious even if sufficient stocks of antibiotics were available, they would have to first be distributed to safety workers who would then distribute them, delaying delivery to an already-exposed population. Therefore, a third backup supply would be needed.
It has been clearly demonstrated that allicin from fresh-crushed garlic is superior to most antibiotics in killing anthrax, a fact that public health authorities are remiss in reporting. Garlic is obviously widely available and affordable.
The LA Times report didn’t overtly create suspicion that this consultant had financial motives to spread public fear over anthrax in the still unexplained crime involving the anthrax-laden letters that were sent to the news media and members of Congress. But the article did post photos of the letters released by the FBI. Whether this consultant was ever investigated by the FBI for involvement in that crime is unknown.
Instead, federal authorities mistakenly fingered former Army scientist Dr. Steven J. Hatfill and later paid out a $5.82 million settlement against his claim that the Justice Department and the FBI invaded his privacy and ruined his career.
Nearly a decade after mailing of the anthrax-laced letters, a panel of three scientists, writing in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense, say the man the FBI fingered (Bruce Ivins) was not the likely source of anthrax spores that had a unique and sophisticated chemical profile that Ivins could not possibly have produced.