Burr Introduces Biodefense Legislation

New BARDA legislation ensures development of new medical countermeasures, North Carolina poised to benefit

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, has introduced the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2006. The legislation would provide the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the additional authorities and resources necessary to build partnerships to rapidly develop drugs and vaccines to protect citizens from deliberate, accidental and natural medical incidents involving biological pathogens, such as bird flu, as well as chemical and radiological agents.

"We need to improve our ability to prepare for and respond to national threats, be they accidental, deliberate, or naturally occurring," said Senator Richard Burr. "I believe it is necessary to have a single person in HHS responsible for partnering with research institutions and industry to quickly develop drugs and vaccines should we need them on a moment's notice. By making sure someone is in charge of developing medical countermeasures, we will develop more vaccines and drugs at a faster rate, and reduce and contain potential threats such as bird flu and bioterrorism," Burr added.

Specifically, the legislation would:

• Reorganize and enhance activities at HHS into the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA: The single point of authority within HHS for the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, including drugs and vaccines to respond to bioterrorism and natural disease outbreaks.
• Encourage academic researchers, drug and vaccine manufacturers, and other potential partners to commit substantial resources to bring new and better products to the market more quickly.

• Encourage innovation to accelerate the development of medical countermeasures which currently takes too long.

BARDA will ensure North Carolina's research universities and biotechnology companies have one point of contact within the federal government when their research on potential medical countermeasures reaches the difficult stage of advanced development. The bill also provides additional financial resources to help research institutions and companies to continue their medical countermeasure developments.

"North Carolina has the third largest biotech industry in the United States. The biotech industry creates important biomedical breakthroughs in Research Triangle Park, Piedmont Triad Research Park, and in the many biotech companies located throughout the state," Burr added. "Our biotech industry and our esteemed medical schools ensure North Carolina will play a major role in medical advancements and public health preparedness."

The Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2006, builds on Senator Burr's legislative efforts last year. In 2005, the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, chaired by Senator Burr, held six public hearings and roundtables prior to the introduction of the original BARDA legislation last year. The hearings explored current and future threats from deliberate, accidental and natural sources and the barriers to the development of effective drugs and vaccines against chemical, radiological, nuclear, and biological agents.

For more information go to https://www.burr.senate.gov

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