Q&A: Bioshield Program Successful After “Rocky Start,” HHS Preparedness Chief Says
WASHINGTON – A multibillion-dollar federal program to spur manufacturing of medical countermeasures against weapons of mass destruction had a “rocky start” but over the last decade has added 11 new products to the nation’s emergency stockpile, a top Health and Human Services Department official said.
There are another 80 pharmaceuticals in various stages of development for treating victims of a biological, chemical, nuclear or radiological incident, noted Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response.
“Think about the fact that we started with zero. We now have 80, so I would call that in and of itself pretty successful,” she told Global Security Newswire.
Then-President George W. Bush signed Project Bioshield legislation in 2004, setting aside $5.6 billion over 10 years for federal acquisition of drugs that might not otherwise have a viable market.
The initial cornerstone of the program was to be procurement of 75 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile. Instead, the deal collapsed after California-based VaxGen fell years behind in delivery of the product.
Bioshield has faced other complications, including recent questions on Capitol Hill about a single-bid contract for a new smallpox drug. Issue watchers have also questioned whether the funding pot was large enough and argued companies needed financial support before reaching the end of the expensive drug research and development process............