Burr Chairs First Bioterror Hearing

North Carolinians Testify on Needed Changes to Bioshield Law

February 8, 2005

Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate's Bioterrorism Preparedness and Public Health Subcommittee, today chaired the subcommittee's first hearing of the 109th Congress.

The hearing centered on the current status and future needs of Bioshield, a law established last year that provides development incentives for new biomedical countermeasures. Specifically, the hearing focused on the development and availability of effective drugs and vaccines to protect against attacks from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

"Preparing for possible bioterror attacks is an important part of the War on Terror, and one I've worked on for many years," said Senator Burr. "We've made great progress, but there is more to do. In order to increase the crucial scientific effort in this area, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and research institutions must have incentives to develop necessary drugs and vaccines."

As a member of the House of Representatives, Burr sponsored the first House bioterrorism legislation - the Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act of 2000. He also helped create the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and the Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003. All were signed into law.

Two North Carolinians testified before the subcommittee. Dr. John Abramson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, while George Painter, PhD, is the President and CEO of Chimerix, Inc., headquartered in Durham.

The subcommittee, one of four under the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has jurisdiction over a wide range of bioterrorism and public health issues including BioShield, the Centers for Disease Control, immunizations, infectious diseases, vaccines and the Ryan White CARE Act.