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Executive Summary

HOUSE BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH "ACCOUNTABILITY" BILL has 66 cosponsors. Rep. Torricelli's (D-N.J.) HR 560 would establish a new data center in the National Library of Medicine of full-text published literature on federally funded research. The purpose of the database is to avoid duplication in federal research projects using live animals. Among the cosponsors are five members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee: Jim Bates (D-Calif.); Jim Florio (D-N.J.); Edward Markey (D-Mass.); Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.); and Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.). The bill has been referred to the committee, but no action has been scheduled. While the main purpose of the legislation is not to reduce the number of animals used in federally funded research, the bill does make an appeal to animal rights advocates. The bill points out, for example, that among the benefits of establishing the information storage and dissemination system is "the sparing of millions of laboratory animals from suffering, fear, and death in duplicative research." The animal rights movement has picked up momentum recently, although action has focused primarily on the cosmetics and household products industries. However, at least one group, the National Humane Education Society, specifically supports Torricelli's bill in a recent mailing to contributors. Under the legislation, introduced Jan. 19, all federally funded research proposals using live animals must be cleared through the new National Center for Research Accountability prior to approval. Torricelli's "Information and Research Accountability Act" directs the National Library of Medicine, "to the extent of funds appropriated for such purposes," to "acquire, in full-text form, all biomedical information owned by each Federal agency or available for use by Federal agencies" and to store all data available since 1960. The center would also make the information available at a cost to medical libraries. The National Library of Medicine is at the National Institutes of Health. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the cost of establishing the new center would be $ 38 mil. in the first year and a total of $ 200 mil. over the first five years. The estimates were developed last spring at Torricelli's request. HR 560 is identical to a bill introduced by Torricelli last August (HR 5154), but never acted upon. HR 5154 was a revised version of a bill introduced by the New Jersey Democrat earlier in the session. The earliest bill, HR 1708, contained an additional provision for the translation of foreign data collected by the new center. However, after CBO estimates suggested that the cost of translations would add significantly to the expense of implementing the bill, the clause was removed. No Senate versions of the legislation have been introduced.

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