National Biodefense Science Board makes CBRN recommendations

The National Biodefense Science Board, following a hurried review, has recommended that a major effort be launched by the federal government to better focus its activities on developing medical countermeasures for biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats.

The board recommended that at least three new countermeasures be chosen for priority efforts in its 103 page report, which comes as part of a comprehensive review of the national medical countermeasures efforts. The review was ordered by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in December, prompted by the slow deliveries of H1N1 influenza vaccine.

In addition to its medical countermeasures recommendations, the boards called for the HHS to coordinate with the White House on a "unifying end-to-end national strategy" to address CBRN threats.

The board also recommended that Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, be empowered as the operational leader for medical countermeasure development.

The guidance for the FDA's "animal rule," which allows for emergency authorization of a drug on the basis of evidence from animal experiments if human trials prove too dangerous, should also be changed, the board said, and the public should be given more information about CBRN threats as part of a sustained communication plan.

"Our most important conclusion is that leadership, discipline, and synchronized effort are not lacking but are unfocused," the report says, reports. "This problem can be overcome by the HHS secretary assembling the agency leaders, designating the ASPR as the coordinating authority, and directing a synchronized, prioritized, common effort toward the nation's goals."