Conferences will review U.S.'s ability to reduce biothreat

A pair of conferences over the next few weeks will enact a comprehensive review of the United States' ability to reduce the impact of a biological weapons attack.

The review of the HHS' recently announced Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise comes on the heels of numerous vaccine delivery delays during last fall's H1N1 pandemic.

A two-day workshop on improving medical countermeasure development to respond to health emergencies, originally scheduled for this week in Washington DC, has been postponed to Feb. 22 through the 24 as a result of snowstorms, Gretchen Michael, spokeswoman in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, said.

The meeting will discuss methods of removing obstacles to developing drugs, vaccines and diagnostics meant to counter threats including anthrax attacks.

The other workshop, organized by the National Biodefense Science Board, will review the management and structure of the countermeasures development program.

The workshop's agenda notes that the problem with countermeasures development is that there is little commercial market for most medical countermeasures, which means that the government must provide incentives for private companies to develop them.

"However, certain structural, strategic, and technical elements of the enterprise continue to impede research, development, and production of medical countermeasures," the agenda states according to CIDRAP News.