Senate H.E.L.P. Committee Approves Burr Biodefense Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today approved S. 1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005, authored by Senator Richard Burr.

"We must ensure the Federal Government acts as a partner with the private sector, providing the incentives and protections necessary to bring more and better drugs and vaccines to market faster," said Senator Burr. "I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on these issues as we get ready to take this legislation to the Senate floor."

The legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Burr would provide the Department of Health and Human Services with the additional authorities and resources necessary to partner with the private sector to rapidly develop effective medical drugs and vaccines to protect the United States from deliberate, accidental and natural incidents involving biological pathogens such as avian influenza, as well as chemical, radiological, and nuclear agents.

Specifically, the legislation would:

• Establish the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, or BARDA, as the single point of authority within the Federal Government for the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, including drugs and vaccines, in response to bioterrorism and natural outbreaks.

• Encourage potential researchers, manufacturers, and health care delivery partners to commit substantial resources to bring innovative new and better products to the market more quickly.

• Provide incentives for the domestic manufacturing of medical countermeasures and pandemic or epidemic products within the United States.

Under the legislation, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency would:

• Report directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and serve as the principal advisor on medical countermeasure advanced research and development.

• Work with academia and the private sector to accelerate and innovate medical countermeasure development.

• Provide direct investment in advanced research and development to ensure that medical countermeasures are widely available in the marketplace.

"As home to the third largest biotech industry in the United States, North Carolina is poised to play an important role in the fight against bioterrorism and infectious disease outbreaks," Senator Burr added. "The work being done throughout our state, at biotech companies and medical research centers located at our universities, will help improve public health preparedness of the entire nation."

Introduction of the legislation comes after nine months of hearings, roundtables and meetings led by Senator Burr on bioterrorism, biological weapons, infectious diseases and public health preparedness. Senator Burr has also led meetings with representatives of the European Union and the World Health Organization.

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