El-Hibri Fuad Blog

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by Nick Rees on December 8, 2009

Fuad El-Hibri

The Office of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has advised Emergent BioSolutions that while BARDA’s Request for Proposal has been canceled, Emergent is encouraged to submit a proposal for the office’s Broad Agency Announcement.

BARDA canceled the RFP for the procurement for rPA vaccines after a technical evaluation panel determined that no proposals submitted by vaccine developers could meet the ProjectBioShield statutory requirement of having the product ready for licensure within eight years.

An amendment issued by BARDA to BAA 09-34 at the same time, however, enable companies to submit proposals to obtain development funding for rPA vaccine candidates, which Emergent has been strongly encouraged to do by BARDA.

Emergent plans to submit its proposal to the BAA by the end of this year, in front of the due date of February 1, 2010 for the proposals.

This announcement also does not impact Emergent’s $400 million procurement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to manufacture and deliver 14.5 million doses of BioThrax for the Strategic National Stockpile.

“With this action, BioThrax remains a critical and long-term countermeasure for the US government,” Fuad El-Hibri, chairman and chief executive officer of Emergent BioSolutions, said. “In addition, based upon encouragement by the USG, we believe our rPA vaccine is well-positioned to obtain a development contract under this BAA. Our anthrax franchise solidifies Emergent as a leader in the development and supply of anthrax medical countermeasures.”

BioThrax is currently being delivered under this contract with an expected completion of deliveries by September 2011. BioThrax is the only FDA licensed vaccine for the prevention of anthrax diseases.

“We believe that BioThrax will remain a premier product based on its recent enhancements, such as four-year dating, a reduced vaccination schedule and intramuscular route of administration, together with the potential for a further reduction in the vaccination schedule to a 3-dose primary series with a 3-year boost,” Daniel J.Abdun-Nabi, president and chief operating officer of Emergent BioSolutions, said. “BioThrax continues to be the product of choice for the USG and other customers seeking to address the anthrax threat.”

BARDA and Emergent are also in separate talks for a contract that would see BARDAA fund scale-up and related activities to obtain FDA licensure for large-scale production of BioThrax at Emergent’s new 50,000-square-foot Lansing, Mich., manufacturing facility.

“I am proud that Lansing remains home to America’s first line of defense against what experts say is the single biggest bioterror threat, anthrax,” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, MI-08, said. “The good news about the cancellation of this particular proposal is HHS recommitted itself to the Lansing-made anthrax vaccine and has opened a new proposal for a next-generation anthrax vaccine for which Emergent has indicated it will compete.

“Rest assured, I will continue working to strengthen our nation’s existing bioterror preparedness measures and protect national security jobs in Lansing.”


BioPort is the only FDA-licensed producer of the anthrax vaccine.

Fuad El-Hibri, chairman and CEO of Emergent BioSolutions Inc., speaks March 9 in Sage Hall. Kevin Stearns/University Photography

On March 9, MBA students taking International Political Risk Management, a course taught by Elena Iankova, a lecturer at the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, heard Fuad El-Hibri, chairman and CEO of Bioport’s parent company, Emergent BioSolutions Inc., discuss the hurdles his firm faces in making and marketing its products abroad.

His guest lecture was titled “Managing International Risk in the Bio-Defense and Telecommunications Industries.”

Using his own company as an example, El-Hibri outlined six areas of risk in international business, among them export/import regulations, politics at home and abroad and financial issues. Much of his talk focused on political issues ranging from export regulations to how to deal with foreign governments.

One hurdle: when BioPort sought to export its anthrax vaccine, BioThrax, the U.S. Department of Defense claimed the vaccine was primarily of military importance and should therefore fall under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Under ITAR, export of the vaccine is controlled by the Department of State and a license is required for each sale. BioPort succeeded in arguing that its product was non-military in nature and therefore belonged under Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Exportation under EAR is controlled by the Department of Commerce and has far fewer restrictions.

El-Hibri seemed to take such challenges in stride. “Obviously,” he said, “the U.S. government is interested in vaccines, especially bio-defense vaccines.” It controls which countries vaccines can be exported to and may use them as a bargaining chip in its own deals with foreign ministries of defense, he commented. “They like to throw our vaccine into the mix and say, ‘Listen, if you buy one more tank or one more fighter jet … we’ll throw in 10,000 doses of anthrax vaccine,'” he said. But such giveaways create problems for companies like BioPort by reducing demand for its products in foreign countries.

Some uncontrollable variables that affect the demand for vaccines are: Politics within the foreign country, the country’s relationship with the United States, its finances, its fears about external threats and regional geopolitics, noted El-Hibri.