Siga nabs $10.7M from the US government in deal for its monkeypox antiviral
The US government is all set to buy $10.7 million worth of Siga Technologies’ monkeypox oral antiviral, the company announced Thursday.
Of the total doses, $5.1 million worth of oral antivirals called Tpoxx (tecovirimat) will be delivered this year, with the US Department of Defense having the option of buying the rest at a later point.
The new contract follows an earlier one in which the government had purchased $7.4 million worth of Tpoxx from the company.
Earlier this month, the CDC expanded its guidelines for expanded use of Tpoxx to curtail the spread of monkeypox. The drug is currently only FDA-approved for the treatment of smallpox.
However, there haven’t been enough studies conducted to confirm Tpoxx’s efficacy for monkeypox, so trials are underway. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the UK have started Phase III trials looking to enroll more than 500 participants each.
“We currently lack efficacy data that would help us understand how well this drug may mitigate painful monkeypox symptoms and prevent serious outcomes. This clinical trial was designed to answer those important questions,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci said in a CDC press statement.
Meanwhile, the FDA has suggested that doctors use Tpoxx judiciously, fearing that the virus may become resistant to the drug. A small change to the viral protein, which Tpoxx targets, “could have a large impact on the antiviral activity of TPOXX,” the FDA said on its website.
Although monkeypox cases have been endemic in parts of Africa, the disease started spreading globally in May 2022, prompting the WHO to declare the outbreak as a global emergency on July 23. Most cases have been in men who have sex with men, although women and children can become infected, according to the WHO.
Currently, a two-shot vaccine called Jynneos, manufactured by the Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, is the only available protection against the disease. Recent data by the CDC, however, showed that a single dose of the vaccine offers protection against the virus.
“These new data provide us with a level of cautious optimism that the vaccine is working as intended,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Monkeypox cases have shown a gradual decline in the US with daily infections averaging around 200 this week, as opposed to 450 cases in mid-August.