Davis: Is Project BioShield meeting goals?

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, requested information Dec. 5 from Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, regarding Project BioShield, a program furthering effective measures against agents of bioterror.

The project offers funding for advanced research in medical technology in the private sector. It also increases the flexibility of authorities at agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to expedite the research and development of critical biomedical advances.

“We consider this to be a vital tool in our defense arsenal,” committee spokesman Robert White said yesterday.

President Bush signed Project BioShield into law in July 2004. The legislation allows $5.6 billion during a 10-year period for the government to purchase and stockpile vaccines and drugs to fight anthrax, smallpox and other potential agents of bioterror.

“By acting as a willing buyer for the best new medical technologies, the government ensures that our drug stockpile remains safe, effective and advanced,” Bush said at the signing ceremony.

“I don’t know what we expect to find,” White said regarding Davis’ request, adding that the congressman wants to find out where the project stands in relation to its goals.

Davis asked Leavitt provide the relevant documents by Dec. 9.

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