Project BioShield: Consistent financing, markets, indemnity for biodefense vaccine developers needed

WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2003): Biotechnology companies are well suited to address the modest commercial opportunities offered by creating safer, more effective and less costly vaccines for biodefense. However, the ultimate effectiveness of Project BioShield -- aimed at supporting such product development depends on its ability to provide consistent and well-coordinated, long-term financing and sufficient, ensured markets, as well as a degree of protection from liability for vaccine developers. Dr. Una Ryan, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of AVANT Immunotherapeutics (Nasdaq: AVAN), based in Needham, Massachusetts and Overland, Missouri, testified today before the House Government Reform Committee on industry concerns that the ultimate shaping of Project BioShield meets the needs and requirements of both the federal government and industry in order to achieve maximum success.

"AVANT has advanced vaccine technology that is already being employed in the clinical development of a next-generation injectable anthrax vaccine, as well as preclinical work on oral biodefense vaccines against anthrax and plague," said Dr. Ryan. AVANT's injectable anthrax vaccine, which entered human clinical testing in October 2002, as well as a single-dose oral vaccine combining protection against both anthrax and plague are under development in collaboration with Department of Defense (DoD) prime contractor, DynPort Vaccine Company (DVC). "We have received initial support for these vaccines through three separate funding agreements from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the DoD, through its Joint Vaccines Acquisition Program. However, we and other small companies cannot fully commit ourselves to the development and supply of biodefense vaccines unless doing so also makes long-term business sense for our firms and their shareholders." Dr. Ryan testified that she and other biotechnology industry executives had several issues of concern related to the sh

Contact: Joan Kureczka
Kureczka/Martin Associates

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