Senator Richard Burr Introduces Comprehensive Biodefense Legislation

Innovative legislation addresses potential threats such as avian influenza and bioterrorism, North Carolina poised to benefit

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, today introduced S. 1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005. The legislation 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 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 and radiological 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 disease 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 for pandemic and epidemic diseases.

"We need to improve our ability to prepare for, and respond to, bioterrorism attacks and natural outbreaks with a comprehensive approach," said Senator Richard Burr. "I believe we need to make sure someone in the Federal Government is partnering with the private sector to quickly develop drugs and vaccines should we need them. By establishing a single agency responsible for developing medical countermeasures and providing sufficient incentives, we will develop more vaccines and drugs at a faster rate - reducing and containing potential threats such as avian flu and bioterrorism."

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.

"North Carolina is home to the third largest biotech industry in the United States, creating important biomedical breakthroughs not only in Research Triangle Park and Piedmont Triad Research Park, but also through companies in Greensboro, Morrisville, Sanford and elsewhere," Burr added. "Our biotech industry, coupled with the important work performed at the Duke University Medical School, the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health and Wake Forest University's Bowman Gray School of Medicine, ensure North Carolina will play a major role in public health preparedness."

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.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg and Senator Lamar Alexander.

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