Pentagon adviser quietly pocketed biotech's cash while promoting its interests

The Los Angeles Times points a bright spotlight on the role former Navy Secretary and biowarfare consultant Richard Danzig played in successfully urging the U.S. government to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new therapy developed by Human Genome Sciences to counter a possible anthrax attack. While Danzig was advocating the program for raxibacumab, he was pocketing more than a million dollars in compensation from HGS. And several biodefense officials say they had no idea of the relationship.

"Holy smoke--that was a horrible conflict of interest," Philip K. Russell, a biodefense official in the George W. Bush administration, told the Times.

HGS, which was recently bought out by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), won $334 million in contracts for raxi, even though there's no evidence that anyone has been working on a terror program involving anthrax. The government pays $5,100 per dose of raxi. 

After 9/11, Danzig repeatedly highlighted the dangers of bioterrorism, including the threat of an anthrax attack. That threat demanded a new therapy that could protect the U.S. population, he said repeatedly over the past decade. But Danzig says he never considered his advocacy of government policy as any kind of direct conflict related to the money spent on raxi.

"My view was I'm not going to get involved in selling that (raxi)," Danzig told the Times. "But at the same time now, should I not say what I think is right in the government circles with regard to this? And my answer was, 'If I have occasion to comment on this, it ought to be in general, as a policy matter, not as a particular procurement.' I feel that I've acted very properly with regard to this." 

- here's the report from the Los Angeles Times