Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Anthrax drug sold

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CANGENE Corp. has received another contract -- potentially for as much as $264 million -- to provide its anthrax immune globulin intravenous (AIGIV) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The anthrax antitoxin Cangene makes in Winnipeg is to treat people who may be exposed to an anthrax attack such as that which occurred in 2001 when anthrax-laden letters were sent through the mail in the U.S.

Cangene was the first company to ship anthrax antitoxin product to the U.S. government's bio-defence program starting in 2007.

Cangene received the first order under the new contract for the collection and storage of anti-anthrax human plasma, enough to manufacture 10,000 doses of the drug. That order should be worth about $63 million and delivered over the next three years.

Jeff Lamothe, Cangene's chief financial officer, said the newest order is to replenish aging product as well as creating surge capacity in the event of another anthrax attack.

According to a news release from HHS on Thursday, this new round of contracts -- which includes orders from four other suppliers including a $196-million order with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline -- will replenish the anthrax antitoxin supply as doses currently in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile expire, and means the supply of anthrax antitoxin will be maintained until 2018.

Earlier this month, Cangene announced an expansion of the scope of work included in a contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the supply of vaccinia immune globulin intravenous (VIGIV) into the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile.

That work could be worth as much as $77 million over the next four years.

Lamothe said the company's shipment of bio-defence products, which includes a botulism antitoxin as well as the anthrax antitoxin and smallpox vaccinations, has slowed compared to what it was a few years ago but could continue for years to come.

"We see it as foundational to our business," he said.

Cangene shares were up 8.6 per cent or 18 cents to close at $2.28.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2013 B7

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