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Cangene Gets $143M HHS Contract for Anthrax Drug

BioWorld Today

Two months after getting a $362 million contract for its botulism treatment under the U.S. government's Project BioShield, Canadian firm Cangene Corp. has added a separate deal, valued at $143.8 million, for its anthrax product.

The Department of Health and Human Services exercised its option from a September 2005 agreement to purchase, over a three-year period, 10,000 doses of Cangene's anthrax immune globulin (AIG). That decision followed the completion of successful preliminary efficacy testing of the drug.

AIG, an antibody derived from donors immunized with the anthrax vaccine, is a hyperimmune product designed to treat inhalation anthrax, an acute infectious disease caused by inhaling spores of Bacillus anthracis.

AIG is the second anthrax drug to win a U.S. contract this summer. Last month, Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., was awarded a deal worth $165 million to contribute 20,000 doses of its monoclonal antibody ABthrax. (See BioWorld Today, June 21, 2006.)

According to the HHS, Cangene is expected to begin delivering AIG to the Strategic National Stockpile beginning in 2007, though full payment of the contract is contingent upon the product gaining FDA approval. Prior to marketing clearance, the drug will be available only for emergency use.

Cangene will manufacture AIG at its Winnipeg, Manitoba, facility, the same one responsible for producing its botulism drug, botulinum toxin immune globulin (heptavalent botulism antitoxin). On May 31, the company reported a five-year, $362 million contract with HHS to supply 200,000 doses of the product, which is designed to treat exposure to the bacteria and/or the toxin that causes botulism. (See BioWorld Today, June 2, 2006.)

In addition to hyperimmune products, Winnipeg-based Cangene also develops biopharmaceuticals. Most recently, the company filed a new drug application for Accretropin, a recombinant human growth hormone product aimed at treating children with growth hormone deficiency and girls with Turner Syndrome.

Cangene reported net income of C$4.8 million (US$4.2 million), or C7 cents per share, for its third quarter ending April 30. As of that date, the company had cash and accounts receivables totaling C$34.2 million.

Shares of Cangene (TSX:CNJ) gained C40 cents Friday, to close at C$8.30.