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U.S. Biodefense Bill to Be Reintroduced Today

Global Security Newswire

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is expected today to reintroduce a revised biodefense bill without components that had faced opposition from the Bush administration and activists, congressional sources told the Drug Industry Daily (see GSN, June 7).

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act would make the U.S. Health and Human Services Department the lead agency dealing with bioterrorism and pandemic flu threats. The bill calls for the executive branch to deliver a national health security strategy to Congress in 2009 and every four years afterward. It also calls for improving medical surge capacity, or the ability to assist large numbers of patients at hospitals during a crisis.

Burr’s legislation does not now call for creating the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency to oversee development of bioterrorism countermeasures. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt had argued that the new agency would hurt his department’s bioterror response capabilities, the Daily reported (see GSN, Oct. 26, 2005). The bill also no longer includes extended market exclusivity for drugs that could be used following an act of bioterrorism (Drug Industry Daily, July 17).