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President Bush Signs Project Bioshield Act of 2004

Project BioShield will transform our ability to defend the nation in three essential ways. First, Project BioShield authorizes $5.6 billion over 10 years for the government to purchase and stockpile vaccines and drugs to fight anthrax, smallpox and other potential agents of bioterror. The Department of Health and Human Services has already taken steps to purchase 75 million doses of an improved anthrax vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile. Under Project BioShield, HHS is moving forward with plans to acquire a safer, second generation smallpox vaccine, an antidote to botulinum toxin, and better treatments for exposure to chemical and radiological weapons.

Private industry plays a vital role in our biodefense efforts by taking risks to bring new treatments to the market, and we appreciate those efforts.

By acting as a willing buyer for the best new medical technologies, the government ensures that our drug stockpile remains safe, effective and advanced. The federal government and our medical processionals are working together to meet the threat of bioterrorism -- we're making the American people more secure.

Second, Project BioShield gives the government new authority to expedite research and development on the most promising and time-sensitive medicines to defend against bioterror. We will waste no time putting those new powers to use. Today, Secretary Thompson will direct the NIH to launch two initiatives -- one to speed the development of new treatments for victims of a biological attack, and another to expedite development of treatments for victims of a radiological or nuclear attack. Under the old rules, grants of this kind of research often took 18 to 24 months to process. Under Project BioShield, HHS expects the process to be completed in about six months. Our goal is to translate today's promising medical research into drugs and vaccines to combat a biological attack in the future -- and now we will not let bureaucratic obstacles stand in the way.

Third, Project BioShield will change the way the government authorizes and deploys medical defenses in a crisis. When I sign this bill, the Food and Drug Administration will be able to permit rapid distribution of promising new drugs and antidotes in the most urgent circumstances. This will allow patients to quickly receive the best available treatments in an emergency. Secretary Thompson has directed the FDA to prepare guidelines and procedures for implementing this new authority. By acting today, we are making sure we have the best medicine possible to help the victims of a biological attack.

Project BioShield is part of a broader strategy to defend America against the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Since September the 11th, we've increased funding for the Strategic National Stockpile by a factor of five, increased funding for biodefense research at NIH by a factor of 30, secured enough smallpox vaccine for every American, worked with cities on plans to deliver antibiotics and chemical antidotes in an emergency, improved the safety of our food supply, and deployed advanced environmental detectors under the BioWatch program to provide the earliest possible warning of a biological attack.

The threat of bioterrorism has brought new challenges to our government, to our first responders and to our medical personnel. We are grateful for their service. Not long ago, few of these men and women could have imagined duties like monitoring the air for anthrax, or delivering antibiotics on a massive scale. Yet, this is the world as we find it; this nation refuses to let our guard down.

Tomorrow, the 9/11 Commission will issue its findings and recommendations to help prevent future terrorist attacks. I look forward to receiving the report. I will continue to work with the Congress and state and local governments to build on the homeland security improvements we have already made. Every American can be certain that their government will continue doing everything in our power to prevent a terrorist attack. And if the terrorists do strike, we'll be better prepared to defend our people because of the good law I sign today.

It's my honor to invite the members of the Congress to join me as I sign the Project BioShield Act of 2004. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

(The Act is signed.) (Applause.)

<< Previous

May 25, 2004
Expanding Access to Health Care for Millions of Americans
April 30, 2004
Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card Discussed on "Ask the WH"
April 27, 2004
President Bush Touts Benefits of Health Care Information Technology
March 16, 2004
President Delivers Remarks on Health Access
February 4, 2004
Health Care Questions Answered on "Ask the White House"
January 28, 2004
President Bush Discusses Quality, Affordable Health Care
January 28, 2004
President's Health Care Agenda Fact Sheet
January 20, 2004
Health Care Excerpts from State of the Union
December 8, 2003
President Signs Medicare Legislation
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