Frederick, Md., to benefit from warfare vaccines

November 10, 1997

Frederick, Md., to benefit from warfare vaccines


Associated Press Writer

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - A company awarded a contract to make millions of doses of biological warfare vaccines said Monday that much of the work will be done at Fort Detrick, or near the Army post.

Fort Detrick, about 50 miles from Washington, has focused on germ warfare defenses since the United States outlawed biological weapon production in 1969.

About 45 percent of the work, including testing and U.S. Food and Drug Administration certification, will be done in Frederick, according to Carl McNair of Dynport LLC of Reston, Va.


``We're talking Frederick as opposed to Fort Detrick, per se, although we will take advantage of as many resident facilities as there are available,'' McNair said in a telephone interview.

Biotechnology experts say the vaccines, which are made from the microorganisms they protect against, can be made from weakened microbes in safeguarded conditions like those at Fort Detrick. The post has not had an accidental release of disease to the public in its more than 50 years of research.

Other work will be done in Gaithersburg; Lenoir and Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Waltham and Cambridge, Mass.; Reston, Va.; and Swift Water, Pa., he said.

The vaccines will be produced in existing plants of yet-to-be named subcontractors, McNair said.

The Pentagon awarded the $321.7 million contract on Friday to Dynport, a joint venture of Reston-based Dyncorp and British drug maker Porton International. Dynport outbid three other finalists for the 10-year contract, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The government sought bids from private companies to develop, produce, stockpile and distribute as many as 18 vaccines to inoculate troops against anthrax, botulism, cowpox, encephalitis, plague and other deadly virus-borne ailments they may confront.

The proposal specified capability to stockpile enough of each vaccine to immunize 300,000 troops.

The other bidders included a consortium of three Maryland companies, BioWhittaker Inc. of Walkersville, PerImmune Inc. of Rockville and Life Sciences Corp. of Rockville. The Maryland group had proposed building a 90,000-square-foot plant and employing at least 200 people to fulfill the contract.

Officials of those companies declined to comment on the awarding of the bid.

Sally Taylor, a spokeswoman for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said the fact that a large share of the work will be done in Frederick was good news.

Bartlett, who lobbied for the contract for four years, said it was long overdue.

``Our troops cannot be an effective fighting force if they are vulnerable to biological weapons. The development of a responsive vaccine program is critical to the national security of the United States,'' he said in a statement.

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