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VaxGen denies conflict of interest over $8m grant assisted by future employee

Documents obtained in 1999 by Brian Deer during his Sunday Times investigation, The VaxGen Experiment,of California Aids vaccine company, VaxGen Inc, resulted in federal prosection of Dr William Heyward, who as HIV vaccine chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cheer-led for VaxGen's technology and arranged $8m in grants for its controversial product whilst secretly engaged to join the company. This is the company's reply to a report in The Chicago Tribune of February 17 2000 by staff writer Jeremy Manier

On February 24 2003, it was announced that a US phase III trial had failed to show efficacy for AidsVax


From Nicole Lynch, VaxGen

In response to Jeremy Manier's "Possible conflict seen in grant on HIV vaccine tests," Dr. Donald P. Francis, president of VaxGen Inc., has pointed out some misperceptions contained in the story.

None of the $8m research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes directly to VaxGen. All money involved in the collaboration goes directly to six of the 61 clinical research centers involved in the Phase III trial over a four-year period [see note below].

Dr William Heyward did not authorize the $8m grant. He was a participant in the discussions about the collaboration and a member of a team that made the decision.

The president of the United States has called for government and industry to work together on AIDS vaccine development. The value in this collaboration is in working with CDC. The information that will be gained will be invaluable for speeding the development of an HIV vaccine.

VaxGen Inc. vehemently denies any allegations of a conflict of interest in its collaboration with the CDC.


[Note] In VaxGen's initial public offering prospectus, dated June 1999, the company tells investors (page 20): "We anticipate receiving an aggregate of approximately $12,600,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Allergy and Infectious Diseases commencing in September 1999. We believe these funds will enable us to meet anticipated operating expenditures for an additional year."


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