Rogers: Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (2006)

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Friday, December 8, 2006

Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act and specifically the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act.

I would like to thank Chairman Barton, and the Energy and Commerce Committee staff for their support. I would also like to extend a special thanks to my colleague Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for her work on the issue.

Biological weapons have been proven to work, are capable of causing massive disaster, are relatively cheap, and are increasingly easy to design, build and disseminate.

The materials and technical know-how needed to make a bio-weapon that could infect hundreds of thousands of people are already widely distributed around the planet, and the number of people who possess the expertise needed to create bioweapons is rapidly growing as biotechnology and pharmaceutical research and production expand into developing countries.

Preventing either a natural epidemic or a bioterrorist attack is, unfortunately, unlikely. Therefore, the Nation's ability to rapidly and effectively respond in the face of a bio-security crisis must be a central pillar in our bio-security strategy.

Medicines and vaccines that can counter illnesses caused by exposure to bioterror agents are obviously an essential component of biodefense and would be critical to controlling the spread of contagious disease.

This legislation will enable the government to better develop, procure, and make available countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents for use in a public health emergency.

Bioterror countermeasures for agents of terrorism have no market other than the government. This legislation will provide assurance to companies that the government is fully engaged and a willing and able business partner.

This legislation will speed up the development and procurement process by reorganizing and enhancing these responsibilities into the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, BARDA.

1. BARDA would create a single point of authority within government.
2. BARDA would streamline the approval and acquisition process to help bridge the "valley of death" for bio-pharmaceutical research.
3. BARDA is an aggressive partnering with universities, research institutions and industry on the advanced development of promising drugs and vaccines and would of these countermeasures.

As the Chairman and my colleagues on both sides of our aisle know, the House passed version of this legislation also included specific authority under BioShield for HHS to enter into procurement contracts with multiple companies for multiple products and technologies.

We all know from lessons learned that this is a complicated and uncertain process. These vaccines and other medical countermeasures are only in the early stage of development and history suggests that most will not be successfully developed or only a few will receive FDA approval.

That is why the House-passed bill included a provision intended to direct a risk mitigation strategy that the Department not put all their eggs in one basket.

Is it the understanding that while the bill passed by the Senate had no similar provision, that currently the BioShield statute provides authority for the Department to enter into multiple procurement contracts for products and technologies for the development and acquisition of countermeasures and that this is an important risk mitigation strategy for the government.

I have been in communication with Senator Burr and he agrees with this policy.

I urge your support of this important piece of legislation.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).