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Two Firms Granted $2 Million to Seek a Vaccine for AIDS

November 01, 1987|JERRY GILLAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The award of almost $2 million in state grants to speed up the development of an AIDS vaccine was announced Saturday by Gov. George Deukmejian, who said, "We must find a cure for this presently incurable disease."

In his weekly radio speech, the governor said by 1991 an estimated 50,000 Californians will have AIDS and 34,000 will have died from a disease that was virtually unknown 10 years aso.

The $2 million in state funds to find an AIDS vaccine will go to two Northern California-based biotechnology companies chosen by competitive bids under provisions of a state law that swept through the Legislature last year. Assemblyman William J. Filante (R-Greenbrae), a physician, sponsored the statute.

Selected by Panel

The firms are the Chiron Corp. of Emeryville, which will receive $1.55 million, and Becton Dickinson Monoclonal Center Inc., of Mountain View, which will receive $393,000.

The two companies were selected by an AIDS Vaccine Research and Development Committee, headed by Dr. Ken Kizer, director of the state Department of Health Services. It also includes Dr. Jonas Salk, who discovered the anti-polio vaccine.

The law provides for a total of $4 million in state grants to promote the development of an AIDS vaccine.

"California is the only state that provides this kind of incentive to manufacturers to develop an AIDS vaccine," the governor said, who called it "another example of our state's leadership in addressing the AIDS crisis."

Another 1986 law by Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) calls for $6 million in appropriations for testing of the anti-AIDS vaccine once it is developed. It also specifies liability limitations for vaccine producers and guarantees that the state will purchase doses of an approved vaccine if the manufacturers cannot find a market for their product.

Deukmejian emphasized that the state will spend a total of $63 million this year for AIDS research, treatment, education, testing and care, which is double the amount spent for the same purposes last year.

"California's commitment to fighting AIDS far exceeds that of any other state," he said. "In fact, we spend more for research, education and health care than the next 10 states with the highest AIDS caseloads combined."

Experiments Approved

The governor recently signed into law bills to allow the state to test experimental AIDS drugs in human beings, but cautioned that the state will not attempt to supplant the federal Food and Drug Administration's authority to license new drugs. He also signed other bills to allow doctors to disclose AIDS test results to an individual's spouse and require AIDS tests to be offered to applicants for marriage licenses.

But Deukmejian vetoed measures designed to raise an estimated $150 million for AIDS research by offering a tax credit to private donors, require schools to show AIDS prevention videotapes to junior and senior high school students and make AIDS tests more readily available on college campuses.

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