Senator Burr Kicks Off Push to Renew Pandemic and Bioterror Defense Law

January 24, 2018

RB Bioterror

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the last several weeks, Senator Richard Burr, a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired multiple hearings on the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). As the original sponsor of the 2006 PAHPA legislation, Senator Burr has been one of the foremost leaders in preparing our country for the public health threats we face, both naturally occurring like pandemic flu and those that may be the result of a deliberate attack.

In the first hearing, witnesses included the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, the FDA Commissioner, and the Director of Public Health Preparedness and Response at CDC. The second hearing included testimony from the Director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at Sequirus (an influenza vaccine company), the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Head of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Hearing from members of the administration, state officials, health care practitioners, and the private sector has been invaluable to informing Senator Burr as he begins work to authorize this critical law.            

Below is an excerpt from yesterday’s hearing regarding the importance of innovation in medical countermeasures with Mr. MacGregor of Sequirus:

Senator Burr, “You mentioned BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), BARDA’s known for its work to advance new and innovative technologies to better combat public health threats, and has been extremely successful in innovative approaches to the development of medical countermeasures such as platform technologies. What do you see as the greatest challenges to bringing these new and innovative technologies through the medical countermeasure pipeline?”

Mr. MacGregor, “Well I think one example of what you mentioned, Senator Burr, is new and innovative platform technologies, and the plant in Holly Springs [North Carolina] is an example of this. This is cell-based technology in Holly Springs, it’s not the more conventional egg-based, to which I think more people are aware. And the interaction with BARDA has been very strong, and not only allowed us to continue to advance the effectiveness of cell-based technology, most recently through efforts to improve the yields of cell-based technology that not only benefit in a pandemic setting, but also potentially benefit in a seasonal setting as well, and the benefit that ideally will come will not only be hopefully in vaccines coming sooner to market, but the other promise we hope with cell-based technology, as an example of a platform technology that is invested in by the government, is that it offers the potential for providing a better match in the event of a mismatch season, as we’re experiencing this year.”