MAY 21, 2013
An influential Pentagon official who also served as a presidential consultant and Navy Secretary persuaded the U.S. government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a useless anthrax drug manufactured by his biotech firm.
Can you say the fleecing of America? This would be unfathomable if it weren’t laid out in a lengthy article published this week by one of the nation’s largest newspapers. The official, a lawyer named Richard J. Danzig, saved his struggling Maryland-based biotech startup, Human Genome Sciences Inc., by raking in $334 million selling the government a drug it doesn’t need and will likely never use.
He did it by somehow convincing a number of government officials—under both Democrat and Republican administrations—that terrorists would engineer a devastating killer germ, a form of anthrax that could create a major threat to national security. The germ is resistant to common antibiotics, according to Danzig, thus the need for a new and highly specialized drug called raxibacumab. There is nothing like it on the market, it costs an astounding $5,100 per dose and Uncle Sam is the only idiot that has bought it.
U.S. intelligence agencies have never established that any nation or terrorist group has created this sort of anthrax-like weapon. In fact, credible scientists that specialize in biodefense have also practically ruled this potentially lethal power germ out, according to sources cited in the news story.
Nevertheless the government has stockpiled a new type of drug to defend against a nonexistent germ, never bothering to consider that the guy pushing it stood to make a chunk of change. Federal law actually prohibits U.S. officials, including consultants like Danzig, from advising on matters in which they may have a financial interest.
All the high-ranking officials quoted in the story claim to be shocked at the connection between Danzig and the company that sold the government a drug that will sit on shelves until it expires. One of them, an Army major general who served as a biodefense official under George W. Bush and attended Danzig’s bioterrorism seminars said: “Holy smoke—that was a horrible conflict of interest.”
A top Homeland Security official in both the Bush and Obama administrations, John Vitko Jr., also says he had no clue about Danzig’s ties to the biotech startup even though the men served on a special Homeland Security biodefense panel for seven years. “I’m surprised I didn’t,” Vitko says in the newspaper story. “I’m not aware of it.” A number of other powerful government officials tell the same story, that they knew nothing of Danzig’s involvement with Human Genome.
This is incredibly difficult to believe, a rather monstrous pill to swallow considering the power Danzig, a Yale Law School grad, has held over the years under several administrations. He served as a Pentagon appointee under Jimmy Carter and Navy Secretary under Bill Clinton before working under Bush. During the 2008 presidential campaign Danzig advised Obama on national security and bioterrorism then was named to the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
Danzig has received the Department of Defense (DOD) Distinguished Public Service Award, the Pentagon’s highest civilian honors three times. When the startup biotech firm named him to its board in 2001, the company’s top dog rightfully proclaimed that Danzig’s high-level federal experience would benefit the company. What a vision! The once-struggling startup was sold for a whopping $3.6 billion in August thanks to the deal Danzig orchestrated with the government.
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