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.’”