I had the priviledge of working with Senator Lieberman on the development of his bioterrorism legislation which at this posting is still stalled in the Senate by members of his own party who believe that the bill gives too much to drug companies and doesn’t allow trial attorneys enough room to sue innovators who develop bioterror countermeasures. Here is the bill and Lieberman’s own words on the measure.
Ã¢The best way to combat the very real and serious threat of bioterrorism is to utilize our greatest strength Ã¢ the entrepreneurial talent of our nation Ã¢ in our national defense. The BioShield law enacted last year takes the first step, but without additional reforms, companies are not likely to risk their own capital to fund this research, leaving us with a government-funding model that will be exceedingly expensive and not likely to produce the results we need,Ã¢ Lieberman said. Ã¢The concepts in our legislationÃ¢ including tax, intellectual property and liability reforms Ã¢will give us important additional tools to enlist the entire industry in this vital research.Ã¢
Ã¢This bipartisan bill shows that we consider bioterrorism to be a deadly threat to America and the world,Ã¢ Hatch said. Ã¢We need to do more to combat natural threats such as AIDS, SARS, Avian Flu, malaria, antibiotic resistant organisms, and other agents, including genetically manipulated materials, which, in the hands of terrorists, could create a public health catastrophe. Comprehensive legislation is needed today to thwart tomorrowÃ¢s biological threats, including bioterrorism attacks.Ã¢
Ã¢Specifically, the Project BioShield II Act of 2005 authorizes:
Ã¢Â¢ Tax incentives to spur capital investment in this research;
Ã¢Â¢ Intellectual property protections, including patent incentives that could help spur crucial countermeasures or a cure for AIDS or a new class of antibiotics;
Ã¢Â¢ Liability protections to companies who produce vaccines that cannot be fully tested in clinical trials because of the nature of the deadly diseases they are designed to combat.
The legislation does not allocate a specific funding amount for these provisions but promises government funding only for final products that meet the government specifications. Thus the risk is shifted to the industry and its investors to produce the products. “
In crafting the legislation, Lieberman and his cosponsors Senators Hatch and Brownback consulted with more than five hundred national and international infectious disease and biodefense experts and many of them, including the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), have expressed their support for the bill. “
In the wake of the most recent attempt to attack our nation, an effort to pass what Lieberman termed Bioshield II should be a top legislative priority for Congress when it returns in September…