Survival Technologies Inc., a small Bethesda-based medical supply company that has attracted investor interest due to the confrontation in the Persian Gulf, said yesterday that the Defense Department had awarded it a $2 million order for special syringes filled with antidotes for nerve gas.
Survival Technologies is the only domestic supplier of nerve gas antidotes that can be self-administered during combat to counter the effects of chemical warfare. As a result, the confrontation with Iraq, which has used chemical weapons in past conflicts, has caused a flurry of interest in Survival Technologies' product.
The contract announced yesterday resulted from a request that was originally issued by the Defense Department in December 1989. The Pentagon, however, bought twice the amount expected because it decided to exercise all of its options to buy additional supplies. It also moved up the delivery date from November to September.
In addition, company President James H. Miller said he has gotten inquiries in recent days from the U.S. military and allied countries wanting to know how many syringes Survival Technologies could supply, on top of the $2 million order. Miller said he expects additional orders, although he said he did not know how large those would be.
Survival Technologies stock, which earlier this month traded for about $10 a share, closed yesterday at $13.50, down $1. On Monday, the stock hit its high for the year when shares changed hands at $15.25.
Survival Technologies specializes in pharmaceutical delivery systems and cardiac monitoring services for medical emergencies. In addition to the automatic injectors with antidotes for nerve gas, the company produces self-injectors to treat severe allergic reactions and cardiac problems.
The company only a year ago was struggling financially and was forced to cut back and restructure its operations. In the fiscal year ended July 31, 1989, the company lost $1.4 million in fiscal 1989 on sales of $16.6 million.
During the first quarter of fiscal 1990, when the restructuring occurred, the company lost $1.5 million. It made a profit in the next three quarters, fueled primarily by the expansion of sales of its commercial products to Bristol-Myers Co. and Syntex Laboratories Inc.
Survival Technologies said it expects a small loss for fiscal 1990 when it reports its results in September.
Miller said the company laid off about 20 percent of its employees a year ago because of its business problems, but additional sales this year has brought the work force back up to 320 employees. About 70 of those employees work in Bethesda. The remainder are in St. Louis, where the manufacturing facility is located.