HHS to release controversial RFP for radiation sickness treatment

Published 23 November 2005

Biotechnology companies are gearing up for a major government bid: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is about to release an official solicitation for radiation sickness drugs within the next two weeks. HHS will formally request therapies for acute radiation syndrome (ARS) — the ailment, often fatal, suffered by victims of a nuclear blast or an explosion of a “dirty” bomb. Note that the pre-solicitation notice says that the RFP will leave mostly unchanged two elements in a draft solicitation circulated in September which prompted one leading biotechnology firm and several federal lawmakers to charge that the department was not buying enough, or the right kind of, drugs. As we reported a few weeks ago, the 18 November notice indicated HHS intended to purchase up to 100,000 doses of treatment, as indicated in the draft solicitation. San Diego-based Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, a leading manufacturer of ARS countermeasures, and allies in Congress have said that was far too few doses to treat all those who would be affected if a nuclear bomb were detonated in a major American city.

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