WASHINGTON, DC—At a sparsely attended Senate hearing Wednesday (October 6) on potential improvements to the BioShield legislation signed into law in July, several pharmaceutical manufacturers pleaded for stronger liability protection, while an infectious disease expert urged a broadening of the provisions to encourage antibiotic development. Only a handful of senators attended the hearing off and on, as Congress is busily trying to finish its business before the election.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who appeared for a short period and whose office received an anthrax-laced letter in 2001, said he was outraged that what he called "important" proposals to improve bioterrorism defenses were scheduled for a hearing when most senators are unavailable. The joint Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Judiciary committee hearing was held ostensibly to examine flaws in BioShield and to entertain suggestions for fixing the law.

Bioshield allows the government to spend $5.6 billion over 10 years to...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?