April 01, 2005
Today's Wall Street Journal has this article about the proposed new legislation, dubbed Bioshield II, designed to create incentives for medical research and development, targeted mainly at bioterrorism agents but also including infectious diseases. The proposals would offer companies new protection from lawsuits, tax incentives to help fund research and production as well as various patent protections.Most contentiously, the Bill currently includes "wild-card exclusivity", by which a company that successfully develops a new product product to prevent or treat a bioterrorism illness or emerging infectious disease could get six months to two years of additional patent life for any product it chooses.
These days, PhRMA says it is most interested in proposals to protect makers of bioterror products from liability suits. Brand-name drug maker Merck & Co. says it isn't lobbying for the wild-card proposal. To get larger companies involved in bioterrorism research, "we think the two critical issues are a strong, guaranteed purchase commitment and liability protection," says Ian Spatz, Merck's vice president for public policy.
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