Many taxpayers expect the government to plan for every contingency, so perhaps it makes sense to have the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority - and then have it plan to develop medicine in case of a nuclear attack.

(This, of course, assumes we're not all vaporized.)

That really is part of the official mission of BARDA, which is within the Department of Health and Human Services. BARDA announced a $200 million agreement with GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday. The goal of the agreement is to develop new antibiotics that help with infections, whether they occur in an otherwise normal visits to a hospital......or in a nuclear, chemical or biological terrorist attack.

A link to Thursday's Inquirer story is here.

The BARDA site is here and one tab lists some of the previous agreements the agency has had with drug companies.

A link to a previous deal with GSK is here. In that deal, the agency and company explored possibilities with one molecule.

BARDA director Robin Robinson said the latest deal is a new model in that three molecules in GSK's inventory will be researched to see what's possible. If one doesn't work out, a fourth might be substituted and worked on.

In theory, Robinson said, one molecule might turn into a drug that works in bioterrorism situations and more normal hospital situations. The government will pay for early trials that might lead to use in bioterror uses (anthrax, plague) and GSK would pay for other trials that might involve uses in more commercially viable applications.

David Payne, who leads GSK's Antibiotics Discovery Performance Unit in Upper Providence in Montgomery County, said the goal would, ideally, to develop antibiotics that are only needed by patients who are resistant to older antibiotics. That way the new ones would not suffer the problems of the old ones, which is over use.