Senator Richard Burr to Introduce Comprehensive Biodefense Legislation

Public health preparedness legislation to address potential threats such as avian influenza and bioterrorism

Senator Richard Burr today announced plans to introduce comprehensive biodefense legislation following the October recess. The legislation, the National Biodefense Act of 2005, will be formally introduced in the Senate with the intent of marking up the bill in Committee this fall. Burr, chairman of the Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, made the announcement after meeting with Republican and Democrat colleagues on the subcommittee and after chairing subcommittee hearings on biodefense issues throughout 2005.

The legislation would:

• Establish the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency as a single point of authority within the Federal Government for developing 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 manufacturing of medical countermeasures and pandemic or epidemic products within the United States.

"We must be prepared for any possible disease outbreak," said Senator Burr. "This legislation will provide a comprehensive approach to combat deliberate, accidental or natural outbreaks of infectious diseases. By establishing a single agency responsible for medical countermeasures, we will be able to develop more drugs and vaccines at a faster rate and reduce our vulnerability to potential health threats like avian flu and anthrax."

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.

• 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.