Robert Kramer, President of BioPort
This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 1, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Anthrax is still turning up in Washington. Small amounts of the bacteria found at an FCC mail facility just a day after the FDA finished its fast-track approval of the anthrax vaccine.
The vaccine's maker is a company called BioPort. Joining me now, BioPort's president, Robert Kramer. Mr. Kramer, good to have you.
ROBERT KRAMER, PRESIDENT, BIOPORT: Thank you, Neil. Glad to be with you.
CAVUTO: Can you make all this anthrax vaccine?
KRAMER: Absolutely. We've been in production for a number of years, full production in 2000, 2001 and we're very pleased that the FDA granted not only our approval late last year but also the approval of Hollister-Steer, a company that's actually filling the product in the final vials for us just yesterday. And they're anxious to get forward and move forward and start shipping vaccine to the Department of Defense.
CAVUTO: All right. Let's say there is an anthrax outbreak next week. How much could we realistically have in government hands by then?
KRAMER: Well, first of all, our commitment, following approval from the FDA is to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Defense who we have a contract with. We also think that it's important to provide vaccine potentially to first responders, the police, fire fighters, bioterrorism...
CAVUTO: How much did you get?
KRAMER: Well, we have a significant amount in a stockpile today.
CAVUTO: What's significant?
KRAMER: Well, millions of doses in the stockpile today.
CAVUTO: How many millions?
KRAMER: I'm not at liberty to say, Neil, given the sensitivity of this, in the sense it is...
CAVUTO: Yes, well, a lot of people are sensitive about whether there will enough for them if all hell breaks loose. How many millions of vaccines will be available?
KRAMER: I think as Secretary Thompson has characterized, there is sufficient vaccine in the stockpile to take care of an event of bioterrorism and protect civilians.
CAVUTO: There was some concern earlier on that this vaccine of yours might not be too safe. You would have had some runarounds and run-ins with the FDA. There was concern about that. I know you settled it, but there was separately this woman in Spokane, Washington who was suing you claiming that this vaccine killed her sister. Where does that stand?
KRAMER: Well, I'm not sure exactly where that stands today. But back on your question of safety, this vaccine has been used for over 30 years. It's been licensed by the FDA for that period of time. It's been safely...
CAVUTO: So, why were there all these problems with the FDA just getting this far?
KRAMER: Well, I think you need to understand that BioPort acquired the manufacturing assets from the state of Michigan back in September of 1998. At that time, we established a plan to bring that facility back to a current state of compliance. We've shared those plans with the FDA.
CAVUTO: But you're saying everything's copacetic now?
KRAMER: Everything is fine, Neil.
CAVUTO: You know, here is what worried me, Mr. Kramer. When Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, had said not too long after the attacks, referring to your company that things had not been going swimmingly for them. No offense to you, Mr. Kramer, that doesn't give me a great deal of faith in your company.
KRAMER: Well, I'm not going to speak for Secretary Rumsfeld, but I'm sure he's rather pleased now that we have FDA approval and can concurrently with that, resume distribution of vaccines and provide it to the military. We think it's extremely important to finish this work as we've done and now we can resume providing this vaccine to the people who protect us.
CAVUTO: All right. One final question, sir. If there is an anthrax outbreak in this country, something that could affect tens of millions of Americans, what would be the realistic wait to get a vaccine then, in that kind of a horrific case?
KRAMER: Well, our current manufacturing capacity can comfortably meet the requirements of the Department of Defense. We have millions of vaccine in stockpile that's owned by the Department of Defense that can be made available to the civilian population with the approval of the FDA. So we are prepared and we're prepared to ramp up production significantly to meet civilian needs as our public health officials make those decisions.
CAVUTO: All right. Robert Kramer, thank you very much. Mr. Kramer is the president of BioPort.
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