Inside the Spore Wars

Controversial contracts, bureaucratic bungling -- the Fed's biodefense drug program is a mess. How did it go so wrong?

Had you listened to President Bush on Jan. 28, 2003, you might think the U.S. would have a bustling biodefense industry by now. In a State of the Union speech laced with references to terrorism, Bush asked Congress for nearly $6 billion to fund Project BioShield, a program he said would "quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola and plague." That sounded like a good idea, considering the havoc wrought by the anthrax mailings of 2001, which killed five people and set off a near panic for treatment. So Congress anted up. Eighteen months...

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