Medical Sector Yet to Back BioShield, Official Says

Project BioShield has grown into a $5.6 billion program, Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, DHS acting assistant secretary for health affairs and chief medical officer, told a U.S. House committee on April 18. He told members of the Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science & Technology, however, that America's medical industry has not yet committed "as a whole to invest in our biodefense.

"We must find ways to involve the private sector more broadly in this priority for our nation," Runge testified. "The ability of our private sector to thrive depends on their safety and security. It would be a worthy investment in time, talent, and treasure for companies large and small to come to the table, even without the promise of large returns on their monetary investments. We thank the Congress for giving us a wide range of innovative acquisition and other authorities to pave the way for increased private investment. We will need to rely on the ingenuity and creativity of the American enterprise to reach a condition of security from bioterrorism."

Project BioShield was designed to push for medical countermeasures for natural or chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats for which there are no existing commercial markets. DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services are the major backers of the project.

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