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New HHS Council Seeks Closer Ties With Private Sector; Funding Awaits Biotech Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 - The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched a special council to make it easier for businesses to approach the federal government with new ideas in health care.


The new forum, called the Council on Private Sector Initiatives to Improve Security, Safety and Quality of Health Care, will act as a triage center for companies that want to work with HHS agencies to develop "new ideas," apply for grants or programs, or sell new products.


It was launched in order to make this process easier and more streamlined: rather than navigate the alphabet soup of federal health agencies, companies can approach the council directly, which will then refer requests to the appropriate department.


Member agencies include the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Food and Drug Administration, the US National Institutes of Health, the Office of Public Health Preparedness, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others.


The council was designed to hear business ideas that will improve "public health preparedness and the delivery of health care services," said HHS secretary Tommy Thompson in a statement on Tuesday.


That category will be considered broadly, said HHS spokesperson Karen Migdail, and can include products, management systems, technologies, treatments, or simply new ideas. "There's no limitation on this," she said. "It doesn't have to be a finished product."


The idea behind launching this council, said Migdail, was simply to provide better access to government resources and funds for entrepreneurs that may not be familiar with or have access to programs like the NIH extramural grant system.


Migdail said that the council specifically expected to receive applications from companies developing products or ideas relating to bioterrorism defense.


The council held its first meeting on Jan. 23, and is currently reviewing requests from 18 companies.


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