WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- David P. Wright, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Biosecurity and Chairman and CEO of PharmAthene, Inc., testified today before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the critical importance of developing drugs, vaccines and other medical countermeasures needed to protect Americans from bioterrorism and other catastrophic health emergencies. Effective medical countermeasures for many of the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents that pose the greatest threat to the United States do not currently exist, and Wright argued that the federal government should take a more active role in supporting their development to bolster the nation's biosecurity.
"Protecting our nation against bioterror threats is no less important than ensuring that we have the tools necessary to fortify and protect our military," Wright noted, but "funding for the development of CBRN countermeasures, particularly in the area of advanced development, has been woefully inadequate." Wright stated that "without adequate funding, promising countermeasures will not be developed and the nation will remain vulnerable to a bioterror attack - and make no mistake, a bioterror attack is a real and credible threat."
New drug development is an extraordinarily time consuming and resource-intensive process that requires 10-15 years and approximately $800 million from start to finish for one product. To help accelerate the development of needed medical countermeasures, the Alliance recommended that Congress provide $1.7 billion in FY 2010 to support the advanced research and development of biodefense countermeasures. The principle agency responsible for these activities is the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within HHS. Wright observed that when Congress created BARDA in 2006 it authorized $1.07 billion specifically for this purpose, but to date it has provided less than half of this amount. Wright highlighted several promising vaccines and therapies that could benefit from increased funding and noted that each new biotech job results in the creation of 5.8 additional jobs in other industries. "Increased funding would advance the day when our nation has access to these critical countermeasures," Wright stated, but "until that day arrives, the American people remain at risk."
About the Alliance for Biosecurity
The Alliance for Biosecurity was formed in June of 2005 by biopharmaceutical companies and the Center for Biosecurity of the
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