Issue Date: May 24, 2004
Senate passes Project Bioshield with $5.6 billion
The Senate finally passed the long-stalled Project Bioshield legislation (S. 15) last week, committing $5.6 billion over 10 years to develop and stockpile vaccines and medications to combat bioterrorism attacks. The House is expected to approve the Senate version next month. The bill provides incentives to pharmaceutical makers and biotechnology companies for the development of medicines to treat people exposed to bioterrorist agents such as anthrax, Ebola virus, bubonic plague, and botulism toxin. The measure gives the government authority to relax acquisition procedures for vaccines in a national emergency and could let the government bypass FDA's approval process to rush production of new treatments. Most members of Congress are pleased that the measure is finally on its way. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, said in a statement that "the R&D aims of this legislation will strengthen our ability to counter bioterrorism, and it will advance our overall biotechnology infrastructure." Congress had approved $890 million for Project Bioshield for fiscal 2004.
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