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BioShield moving forward

Unlimited spending authority and industry liability remain key stumbling blocks

Ted Agres(tedagres@lycos.com)

A House of Representatives committee has approved legislation to enact Project BioShield, the White House plan to accelerate development and production of new vaccines and countermeasures against biological weapons. But the committee has rejected the Bush administration's request for unlimited funding authority, a component that officials argue is essential to spur research and development of new vaccines and therapeutics.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday unanimously approved its version of the Project BioShield Act and set funding at around $5.6 billion over the next 10 years. The House bill is at odds with the Senate version, which grants the administration's request for "permanent indefinite funding authority" to spur development and purchase "huge amounts" of vaccines or drugs to treat smallpox, anthrax, Botulinum toxin, Ebola, plague, and other pathogens.

That measure (S 15), passed March 19 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, would authorize a...

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