Bush Seeks $1.5 Billion For Drugs, Readiness
With the number of reported anthrax cases increasing and fears about the disease spreading, the Bush administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $1.5 billion in funding for counter-bioterrorism measures, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some $643 million of the $1.5 billion would go toward increasing the nation's stockpile of medications for the disease, and the remainder would go to hospitals and state and local governments to increase their "bioterrorism preparedness." About $345 million has already been allocated for bioterrorism initiatives for fiscal year 2002, but many members of Congress and health experts have said that the nation is not adequately prepared for a large-scale bioterrorist attack. The federal government currently has enough quantities of the antibiotic Cipro -- the only drug approved by the FDA to treat inhalation anthrax -- to treat 2.2 million people for 60 days (McGinley/McKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 10/15). Speaking on news programs yesterday, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said the administration wants to boost the supply to treat 12 million people (Pollack, New York Times, 10/15). He said that the federal government was prepared for a future anthrax attack. "I'm telling people you don't need to hoard Cipro," he said (Shenon, New York Times, 10/15).