Project BioShield, a 10-year $6-billion program to develop and produce new vaccines and countermeasures against potential bioweapons, would give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) new authority to bypass traditional procedures when awarding urgently-needed research and development grants and contracts and allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to distribute experimental drugs in case of a bioterrorist attack or other emergency.

The initiative to develop vaccines and treatments for smallpox, anthrax, Botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague was first announced by President Bush in his State of the Union address Jan. 28. He proposed funding of $6 billion over the next 10 years for the effort. This week, the White House released additional information on how the new plan, which is subject to legislative approval, would work. The proposal includes three main components:

Spending authority for "next-generation" vaccines and countermeasures. The plan gives the federal government "permanent indefinite funding authority"...

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