12:00 AM
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Oct 22, 2001
 |  BioCentury  |  Politics, Policy & Law

Recruiting bio-industry into bio-defense

Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) plan to introduce legislation this week that would increase incentives for biopharmaceutical companies to participate in efforts to defend against attacks with biological agents, according to industry officials involved in the effort.

Kennedy invited representatives from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and several biotech and pharma companies to a meeting last week to solicit ideas for the legislation. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also attended.

Kennedy and Frist want to spend up to $10 billion on biodefense, with the bulk aimed at vaccine R&D and production. But the industry representatives told the lawmakers that vaccination may not be a practical approach to protecting civilian populations and they urged the senators to expand the proposal to a wider range of biomedical approaches.

In addition, Kennedy was told that the key barriers to greater industry contributions to bio-defense are concerns about liability and a historical lack of long-term commitment on the part of the government, according to Michael Werner, director of federal government relations at BIO. BIO member companies also want expedited FDA approval processes for defense-related applications, he added.

"The prevailing view is that government needs to indemnify companies, there need...

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