NEW YORK, July 21 (GenomeWeb News) - US President Bush this morning signed the Project BioShield Act, thereby authorizing the US government to spend $5.6 billion over 10 years to purchase vaccines and drugs to combat potential bioterrorism threats such as anthrax and smallpox.
According to remarks made by the President at this morning's signing of the bill, the US Department of Health and Human Services has already initiated the purchase of 75 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine, and plans to acquire a second-generation smallpox vaccine, an antidote to botulinum toxin, and better treatments for chemical or radiological poisoning. It was unclear whether the bill would provide funding for basic bioterrorism-related genomic or molecular biology research.
First revealed in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, the bill has been eagerly anticipated by vaccine and drug makers looking for financial incentive to focus research and development efforts on bioterrorism-related products. In an April 16 Science magazine editorial, Claire Fraser, president and director of The Institute for Genomic Research, stressed the dire need for such an incentive to also increase industry efforts in combating the increasing number of naturally occurring infectious diseases and drug-resistant bacteria. Fraser was unavailable for comment prior to the publication of this article.