News FocusBiodefense: 10 Years After

Reinventing Project BioShield

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Science  02 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6047, pp. 1216-1218
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6047.1216

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In the wake of the fall 2001 anthrax letter attacks, protecting against future bioterrorism attacks became a top priority for the U.S. government, resulting in the creation of Project BioShield. This effort was intended to make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague. Yet to this day, the Strategic National Stockpile—a repository of medicines for use in a public health emergency—has no doses of a next-generation anthrax vaccine, nor any vaccines or drugs to defend against Ebola or plague. No major pharmaceutical companies have supplied Project BioShield, and the small biotech companies involved often have had difficulty with large-scale manufacturing and regulatory issues. Congress has also transferred $1.4 billion of BioShield money—more than 25%—to other projects.