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Senate to Consider Bioterror Countermeasure Bill

Global Security Newswire

A bill intended to support the development of drugs and vaccines to combat bioterrorism has been passed by the U.S. House and could be considered by the Senate next month, Copley News reported today (see GSN, Mar. 31).

The measure would create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to try to fill a funding gap in federal efforts to encourage private companies to develop bioterror countermeasures.

The biotechnology industry has been frustrated by the earlier government efforts, in particular the Project Bioshield initiative to purchase vaccines after they have been produced. However, that program does not support development efforts, industry officials said (see GSN, Sept. 29).

“Currently, many promising countermeasures are not making it through the advance research and development necessary to bring products to the point of eligibility for procurement by the landmark Project Bioshield,” said Jim Greenwood, leader of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The bill under consideration in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would transfer $1 billion of Bioshield funds to BARDA to support development activities.

While generally praising the legislative effort, some industry officials are concerned that the new bill might not meet its goals.

“There’s fear that we could see the same problems as we did with Project Bioshield: It won’t be implemented the way it is supposed to be,” said biotechnology lobbyist Frank Rapoport (Terri Somers, Copley News Service, Oct. 13).