Senate approves $5.6 billion for bioterror protections

The Senate approved legislation yesterday to fund $5.6 billion for Project BioShield over 10 years to research, develop and stockpile vaccines, antidotes, and medical and diagnostic devices to protect the nation from bioterror attacks.

The House passed similar legislation last year. Lawmakers will reconcile the minor differences, preparing it for final approval likely by next month.

'Project BioShield will bolster the nation's defenses against biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats,' President Bush said following Senate passage.

The Project BioShield Act of 2003, S 15, is designed to provide incentives that the lead research agency, the National Institutes of Health, can pass on through grants to pharmaceutical and biotech companies to invest in developing medical measures for which there is no commercial market.

The bill also would accelerate the approval process and allow the government to distribute some treatments before the Food and Drug Administration approves them. Among the bioterror agents included are smallpox, plague and Ebola virus.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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