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BioPort to sell anthrax vaccine to Taiwanese government

Associated Press

BioPort Corp., the nation's lone source for the anthrax vaccine, will supply it to the Taiwanese government to immunize its troops, a company official said.

Kim Brennen Root, a spokeswoman for the Lansing-based company, said the sale
of the vaccine was finalized in December.

Prior to the sale, its lone customer was the U.S. Department of Defense, which has used the anthrax vaccine to immunize more than 1 million troops.

In January, BioPort was awarded a $245 million contract to continue supplying the vaccine for the Department of Defense.

"Anthrax is a weapon of mass destruction that could be used by terrorists,
and that is a concern all over the world," Root told The State News (East Lansing). "Based on that, we have interest expressed by several friendly foreign nations for the anthrax vaccine primarily for their militaries."

Root said BioPort executives are "working aggressively on leads with five other countries." She declined to specify which nations have expressed interest because negotiations are ongoing.

Jack Kuei, a spokesman for Taiwan's Embassy in Washington, said Sunday it
would take up to two days for officials in Taipei to confirm the sale.

BioPort would not release the cost of the sale to the Taiwanese government.

BioPort's licensing by the Food and Drug Administration permits the company
to distribute the vaccine to clients other than the U.S. government.

The company is required to notify the FDA of any sales.

"We have a priority in terms of supplying the vaccine for protection of the U.S. military," Root said. "At the same time, we believe there is a global market for this vaccine."

The sale to the Taiwanese government comes while the company has fought to
establish the safety of the vaccine.

In December, a U.S. District Court judge suspended the Department of Defense's immunization program after six people filed a lawsuit, claiming the vaccine was unsafe. By early January, the suspension was lifted and the vaccination program was reinstated, despite ongoing litigation.