Senate unanimously reauthorizes 2006 preparedness act
The US Senate yesterday approved reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 (PAHPA) by unanimous consent, setting the stage for resolving differences between the Senate bill and a House version that was passed in December. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., lead sponsor of the bill, said in a press release that the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies has improved since 2006, but the 2009 flu pandemic showed that more work is needed. “I am pleased that this bill will strengthen our existing medical and public health preparedness and response programs based on the lessons we have learned in recent years, including ensuring that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] has the tools it needs to advance the medical countermeasures necessary to respond to modern day threats,” he said. According to bill summaries from Burr’s office and a Senate committee, the bill reauthorizes federal programs that support state, local, and hospital emergency preparedness; authorizes $2.8 billion for Project BioShield for further development of medical countermeasures from 2014-18; increases the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority’s focus on developing innovative biodefense tools; charges the FDA with developing regulatory science tools to advance the review and approval of medical countermeasures; and makes targeted enhancements to the National Disaster Medical System, the Medical Reserve Corps, the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, and the Strategic National Stockpile of drugs and medical supplies. The bill also includes provisions requiring consideration of the needs of at-risk individuals in emergency preparedness.