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Bush order aims to boost bio-drug supply

By Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush issued an executive order Monday to speed up the production and delivery of pharmaceuticals to protect Americans from bioterrorism.

The order gives the Health and Human Services Department the authority to assume the legal and financial risk for contractors who are increasing the supply of drugs and vaccines desired by government.

"It allows Health and the Human Services to proceed to expedite the manufacture, storage and transportation of vaccines for the national pharmaceutical stockpile," said Claire Buchan, deputy White House press secretary.

Under Bush's order, the agency has the authority to indemnify contractors "in connection with national defense functions." Eleven other federal agencies currently have such authority, Buchan said.

The Bush administration has asked Congress to allocate $1.5 billion to the health agency. Most of the money would go toward increasing the supply of the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, used to treat anthrax, and the vaccine for smallpox.

The White House has said the government currently has enough Cipro to treat 2 million Americans for 60 days. It wants to be able to treat 12 million people over the same period.

The administration is also looking to have 300 million doses of the smallpox vaccine on hand, enough to vaccinate every person in the country.



 
 
 
 


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