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Policy

Senate Clears Biodefense Bill

by Glenn Hess
March 19, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 12

The Senate has approved legislation aimed at further strengthening the nation’s readiness for an act of biological terrorism, such as an attack with a substance like anthrax, or a major outbreak of a disease such as flu from the H1N1 virus. The measure next goes to the White House for the President’s signature. The Pandemic & All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization of 2011 (S. 1855) would renew federal biodefense programs that promote the development and procurement of medical countermeasures against biological, chemical, and radiological agents. The bill reauthorizes the Project Bioshield Special Reserve Fund, which was established in 2004 as a $5.6 billion war chest for the government’s purchase of vaccines and other medical treatments over a 10-year period. New legislation would authorize an additional $2.8 billion from fiscal 2014 to 2018 for the fund. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill this past December.

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