Burr issues Senate version of PAHPA reauthorization

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and eight bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 last week to ensure national preparedness against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.

Burr's office said that the reauthorization would strengthen preparedness for and ability to respond to public health and medical emergencies, optimize local and state all-hazards preparedness and response efforts, and enhance activities related to medical countermeasures. The legislation would also reauthorize certain medical and public health programs.

PAHPA was originally signed into law in 2006 as part of a significant effort to improve medical and public health preparedness and response capabilities. The reauthorization would make targeted enhancements to existing programs and authorities engaged in preparedness and response.

"The threats facing our nation are serious and we must address them accordingly," Burr said. "The American people expect us to do all that we can to prevent an attack and, if one should occur, be fully prepared to respond, including having safe and effective medical countermeasures readily available. While key progress has been made since PAHPA was signed into law, more work remains to be done. This legislation redoubles our efforts to protect the American people by strengthening our existing programs and making targeted improvements in areas in which we know we must do better, including ensuring that our nation's medical countermeasure enterprise reflects and is prepared to respond to modern-day threats."

The legislation was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. On Wednesday, the committee held a markup of the legislation at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

"(The bill) will enhance our nation's ability to protect American families from the full range of public health emergencies," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the HELP committee, said, according to Occupational Health & Safety. "By increasing coordination among federal, state, and local governments, ensuring that our preparedness capabilities take into account the needs of at-risk individuals, investing in research and medical countermeasure development, and strengthening our planning efforts, we can be better prepared to face threats to public health."

The legislation would reauthorize and enhance the Strategic National Stockpile, the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, the volunteer Medical Reserve Corps and the National Disaster Medical System.

The Alliance for Biosecurity, a collaboration among pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies working to prevent and treat severe infectious diseases, and multiple member companies of the alliance are engaged in advocacy efforts for the bill, Congressional Quarterly reports.