Companies push Congress for PAHPA

Biotechs, drug developers, public health organizations and venture capital investors have started to push Congress to reauthorize a significant anti-bioterrorism bill as quickly as possible.

Although both chambers of the 112th Congress passed the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, its authorization was held up as lawmakers hoped to attach unrelated provisions to it, according to

"We're starting all over again," Jeff Levi, the president of the advocacy group Trust for America's Health, said, reports.

PAHPA includes various incentives to encourage companies to continue to develop drugs, vaccines and other products that could be used in case of a biological attack or other public health emergency. Manufacturers have said they need the certainty that the federal government will support them even though their products will hopefully never be used.

The law also supports the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an office operating as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's strategic national stockpile.

Major pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, Bavarian Nordic, Glaxo Smith Kline and Sanofi Pasteur, are watching the issue closely. They all develop products that are part of the U.S. arsenal against public threats but have limited commercial applications. The Alliance for Biosecurity, a coalition of several biotechs, including PharmAthene and Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., is also pushing the federal government to quickly reauthorize PAHPA.

"This issue remains a top priority for BIO," Jim Greenwood, the president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said, reports. "We strongly support reauthorization of PAPHA. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to get this accomplished as soon as possible in 2013."