Anthrax Expert Could Have Cashed In on Panic

Ivins had share in patents for a vaccine
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 2, 2008 8:38 AM CDT
Frederick police talk with a woman who they identified as Diane Ivins, the widow of Bruce E. Ivins.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
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(Newser) – Bruce Ivins, the government scientist linked to the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings who committed suicide this week, stood to profit from a panic set off by the killings, the Los Angeles Times reports. Ivins, who was close to being charged by the FBI when he killed himself, was listed as a co-inventor on two patents for a vaccine that could have earned him tens of thousands in royalties as the government stockpiled vaccines.

The vaccine had been shelved until 9/11 and the anthrax mailings; in the aftermath, an $877 million contract was awarded to a company expected to produce the vaccine. As it turned out, Ivins was never paid; the company couldn’t make batches quickly enough and the contract was ended. One colleague of Ivins sees a different motive: to wake people up to the need for biological defense. “I don't think he ever intended to kill anybody. He just wanted to prove, ‘Look, this is possible.’”