House passes bill to protect U.S. against biothreats

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) bipartisan bill to protect the U.S. against pandemics and attacks from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

"Terrorists continue to actively seek out biological or chemical weapons to carry out horrific attacks against us," Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said. "We must act to prepare for such threats that we continue to face on a daily basis more than 10 years after 9/11."

The bill, H.R. 2405, which is supported by the administration, reauthorizes portions of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority that Rogers originally authored in 2006.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority serves to bridge the funding gap that exists between early-stage research and the actual procurement of medical countermeasures, including vaccines and medications.

Rogers' bill also reauthorizes Project BioShield's Special Reserve Fund. The Special Reserve Fund was created as a means of procuring for the Strategic National Stockpile medical countermeasures against anthrax, smallpox, botulism and other threats.

Public health preparedness programs are also reauthorized by the bill, which also strengthens the FDA's role in reviewing medical countermeasures and enhances the role of the Department of Health and Human Services' Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

"I hope and pray that we never need to use such defensive measures, but they are critical to ensuring that the public stands protected," Rogers said. "We need to continue to expedite their development and strengthen the national stockpile. Quite simply, we must always prepare for the worst."