The Apex Herald - Price Tours Anthrax Vaccine Facility
By Shawn Daley
MORRISVILLE – The war against terrorism extends far beyond military objectives in nations thousands of miles away. The fight encompasses much more than constant vigilance by governmental and law enforcement agencies.
One of the most important battles against dangerous extremists occurs every day in cutting edge laboratories throughout the world. Although often overlooked by the public, this scientific endeavor is crucial in thwarting possible bioterrorism attacks.
And the ongoing effort is occurring very close to home.
U.S. Rep. David Price last week visited Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Morrisville to see firsthand how the company has partnered with biodefense giant PharmAthene to manufacture a second generation anthrax vaccine.
After touring the facility, Price held a town hall style meeting with employees to briefly discuss the future of the nation's biodefense program during a time that many government programs are undergoing massive budget cuts.
As the minority leader of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Price said "we can and we will" continue to fund biodefense programs despite the struggling economy.
Price said that Homeland Security has not become a partisan issue and that he is optimistic that both Democrats and Republicans will remain supportive yet prudent with spending.
"We need to make tough funding choices," said Price. "We don't have a blank check and we shouldn't have a blank check."
But Price also said that many of the budget cuts now occurring have gone too far.
"Some of the things they are doing now go beyond budget discipline and are damaging," said Price.
Price's visit was purposely held with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in mind. Anthrax remains one of the top threats to public safety in the war against terror and an improved vaccine has been a priority of the government's biodefense program.
Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and PharmAthene created a new, protein-based vaccine that mimics an immune response similar to the current anthrax vaccine. This vaccine, however, offers more advantages for less than half the cost.
Price told company officials they held "an important niche" in the efforts of Homeland Security and that they should be proud of their new vaccine.
"Companies like this one are at the heart of what the Research Triangle Park is about," said Price.