The Department of Defense (DOD) has formally agreed totransfer $20 million in funds originally appropriated for aPhase III clinical trial of a single AIDS vaccine, gp160, to theDepartment of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH)Hthe principal medical research armof DHHSHwill now be responsible for running the trial, which isplanned to enroll 6,000 to 12,000 patients.
The single vaccine trial has been a source of controversy sincelast fall, when former Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana led alobbying effort to get Congress on October 6, 1992, to allocate$20 million to the army to test the gp160 vaccine, produced byMicroGeneSys Inc. of Meriden, Conn. A "blue ribbon" panelconvened by NIH Chief Bernadine Healy on October 29concluded that a Phase III trial testing multiple vaccines wouldbe preferable to a single vaccine trial.
The announcement late Wednesday of the transfer of fundsand responsibility from the army to DHHS could be viewed aspart of the Federal government's move to consolidate AIDSresearch under the NIH. According to the DOD news release, thetransfer is being done under the Economy Act, which allowsagreements between agencies to carry out governmentactivities in the most efficient manner.
The NIH plans a "rapid initiation" of the studies through itslarge, established AIDS Clinical Trial Group network of civilianmedical research units throughout the U.S.
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