There was a lot of horse-trading going on, and the pharmaceutical companies implied they would also step up to the plate," Gorman said.
Unfortunately for children, that money never materialized," Vining said. Tauzin subsequently took over as the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
The foundation has raised $4.2 million -- barely enough to pay for half of one study of one drug.
Industry representatives said there was never a formal obligation to contribute to the fund. Noting that companies are spending tens of millions of dollars sponsoring studies of patented drugs, they blamed the shortfall primarily on the failure of Congress to appropriate the promised money.
"The expectation was that NIH funding would come into play to help conduct those studies," said Alan Goldhammer of PhRMA.
In the absence of the congressional funding, the NIH has spent $25 million a year in each of the past three years to study a handful of the drugs identified as the biggest concerns.
"We've sort of cobbled together studies as best we can based on the resources we have available," said Donald R. Mattison, chief of the obstetric and pediatric pharmacology branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Of about 50 drugs that have been deemed high priority, the NIH has managed to launch studies of 14, including Ritalin, lithium and morphine. But only preliminary steps have been