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House Bill Would Reauthorize BARDA

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A bill introduced in the US House of Representatives proposes extending the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and funding for Project Bioshield, programs that fund and support development of medical countermeasures against pandemics and terrorist attacks.

Introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (R – Mich.), the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2011 (H.R. 2405) would extend the BARDA program and Project BioShield's Special Reserve Fund (SRF) and other countermeasure and preparation programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services created the BARDA program in 2006 in part to respond to the financial risks faced by companies developing countermeasures to biological, chemical, and radiological threats, particularly to help them cover R&D costs that arise after government funding ends and commercialization begins – a sometimes three to five year period referred to as the "valley of death."

Rogers' office said in a statement that this funding gap "has impeded the development of countermeasures to protect the public."

Under the bill, BARDA would be authorized to receive up to $415 million for each fiscal year between 2012 and 2016.

The reserve fund would be authorized to receive up to $2.8 billion total during the 2014 to 2018 period.

The special reserve fund was created to maintain funds to buy medical countermeasures against anthrax, smallpox, botulism, and other threats for the Strategic National Stockpile.

This bill also would reauthorize other public health preparedness programs, strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's role in reviewing medical countermeasures, and enhance the position of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at HHS, Rogers' office said.

"Pandemics and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons pose serious threats, and we need to work aggressively to prevent their use in another attack against the United States," Rogers said in a statement.

The bill was introduced last week and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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