Kadlec: PHEMCE hinders bioterrorism preparedness

Robert Kadlec, the Biodefense special assistant for President George W. Bush's administration, expressed his concern about the ability of the United States to respond effectively to bioterrorism.

Kadlec said that the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise is restricting progress the government has made on protection from bioterrorism. The PHEMCE is a series of committees that coordinates, validates and decides on how much and which countermeasures to purchase. According to Kadlec, the enterprise nullifies the advantage Congress provided in 2004 when it provided 10 years of procurement funding to protect the nation from bioterrorism, GSN Magazine reports.

The PHEMCE engages in a multiple level review process that requires unanimous consent for internal approval. Kadlec said that this bureaucratic process may keep pharmaceutical companies from having countermeasures available when they are truly needed. He also said that funding cuts have led to issues with the Strategic National Stockpile.

"Further compromising the nation's bio-preparedness is the decline of the Strategic National Stockpile," Kadlec said, according to GSN Magazine. "Countermeasures that have already been bought and stockpiled are at risk of being eliminated because the Centers of Disease Control's bioterrorism funds have been cut. Many of the expiring vaccines, antibiotics and chemical antidotes will not be replaced and funds are inadequate to maintain what is at the ready."

Kadlec said that the current administration and Congress must prevent $5 billion worth of medical countermeasures from being wasted. He said that the administration must spend the money needed to protect the country effectively against bioterrorism.