Department of Defense Exercises Options Under Contract for Nerve Agent Medical Countermeasure Program
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE Amex: PIP), a biodefense company developing medical countermeasures against biological and chemical threats, announced today that the Department of Defense (DoD) has elected to exercise its option to accelerate funding for PharmAthene's rBChE nerve agent medical countermeasure program contingent on the achievement of key milestone activities.
"We believe this is a timely decision given the recent headlines about the potential threat of chemical weapons. PharmAthene is proud to be working in collaboration with the DoD to address this threat and provide innovative new solutions for our partners," remarked Eric I. Richman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We have enjoyed a productive collaboration with the DoD for many years, beginning with our first generation nerve agent countermeasure, Protexia® which completed a Phase I clinical study. We are pleased to be continuing our partnership to advance a next generation platform to deliver a flexible and efficient manufacturing approach, and a cost-effective solution to our government client in support of this important national security initiative."
A recombinant form of human butyrylcholinesterase, rBChE, is a naturally occurring protein found in minute quantities in blood. It functions as a natural bioscavenger, like a sponge, to absorb toxins such as organophosphorous poisons (nerve agents) and certain pesticides, before they cause irreversible neurological damage. Nonclinical studies in animals suggest rBChE has the potential to provide significant protection against chemical nerve agent poisoning when administered prophylactically (prior to exposure to nerve agent) and also may increase survival when administered therapeutically (following nerve agent exposure).
PharmAthene is developing rBChE as a pre- and post-exposure therapy for casualties on the battlefield or civilian victims of nerve agent attacks. Nerve agents belong to a class of compounds known as organophosphorus (OP) agents. OP nerve agents, such as sarin gas, soman, tabun or VX, enter the blood stream via inhalation or absorption through the skin. The nerve agents travel in the circulatory system to the brain and muscles causing the nerves to become over-stimulated which leads to massive convulsions and death in severe cases.
About PharmAthene, Inc.
PharmAthene was formed to meet the critical needs of the United States and its allies by developing and commercializing medical countermeasures against biological and chemical weapons. PharmAthene's lead product development programs include:
- SparVax™ - a second generation recombinant protective antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine
- Recombinant BChE- a novel bioscavenger for the prevention and treatment of morbidity and mortality associated with exposure to chemical nerve agents
- Valortim® - a fully human monoclonal antibody for the prevention and treatment of anthrax infection
In addition, pursuant to a final judgment issued May 31, 2012 from the Delaware Court of Chancery, PharmAthene is entitled to 50% of the net profits over 10 years from all sales of SIGA Technologies' ST-246®, a novel smallpox antiviral agent being developed by SIGA for the treatment and prevention of morbidity and mortality associated with exposure to the causative agent of smallpox, and related products, once SIGA receives the first $40 million in net profits from sales of ST-246®. For more information about PharmAthene, please visit www.PharmAthene.com.
Statement on Cautionary Factors
Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements preceded by, followed by, or that include the words "potential"; "believe"; "anticipate"; "intend"; "plan"; "expect"; "estimate"; "could"; "may"; "should"; or similar statements are forward-looking statements. PharmAthene disclaims, however, any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements. Risks and uncertainties include risk associated with the reliability of the results of the studies relating to human safety and possible adverse effects resulting from the administration of the Company's product candidates, unexpected funding delays and/or reductions or elimination of U.S. government funding for one or more of the Company's development programs, the award of government contracts to our competitors, unforeseen safety issues, unexpected determinations that these product candidates prove not to be effective and/or capable of being marketed as products, as well as risks detailed from time to time in PharmAthene's Form 10-K under the caption "Risk Factors" and in its other reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). In particular, significant additional research work, non-clinical animal studies, human clinical trials, and manufacturing development work remain to be done with respect to rBChE. At this point there can be no assurance that this product candidate will be shown to be safe and effective and approved by regulatory authorities for use in humans. Copies of PharmAthene's public disclosure filings are available from its investor relations department and our website under the investor relations tab at http://www.pharmathene.com.
SOURCE PharmAthene, Inc.