Project BioShield's vax programs on the chopping block

When Congress created Project BioShield four years ago, lawmakers believed that offering developers contracts guaranteeing the acquisition of new vaccines and drugs would spur the biotech industry to find new safeguards against a deadly bioterror attack. But now, as the White House questions the usefulness of the program, there's a move to cut $2 billion out of the effort.  

"BioShield has demonstrated limited success in providing incentive for private-sector developers and has not provided a robust pipeline of medical countermeasures," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Los Angeles Times. Instead, the White House wants to rely on new incentives to spur vaccine and drug development work. But the move quickly drew the ire of two influential U.S. Senators.

"If the BioShield program is defunded now, before your new strategy is even given a chance to work, we will have to find a grade lower than an 'F' for our next report card," wrote Florida Senator Bob Graham and Missouri Senator Jim Talent.  Project BioShield has spent $2 billion of its $5.6 billion budget on new vaccines for smallpox and anthrax vaccines.

The budget shift could have a big impact on companies like Emergent Biosolutions and Bavarian Nordic, which just delivered its first shipment of smallpox vaccine created under the BioShield program.

- here's the story from the Los Angeles Times