Last month, U.S. President George Bush signed into law the US Biodefense Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), designed to speed up the development of biodefense countermeasures by funding products in the so-called advanced development stage, between the end of initial testing and commercial manufacture. However, many details about how the new entity will operate -- and its potential effect on existing drug research and development -- have not yet been entirely settled. BARDA, a program of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is intended to reinvigorate Project Bioshield, the HHS agency created in July 2004 to stockpile anti-bioterror drugs and vaccines. Project Bioshield has been criticized by large pharmaceutical companies who claim its provisions make biodefense manufacturing too risky and not profitable enough, while smaller companies interested in bioterror research say they have lacked the financial backing to develop these products.One example of a company...

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