Gregg Bill Addresses FDA ‘Power’ in Fighting Bioterrorism
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) is crafting a bioterrorism prevention bill with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson that would give the FDA "more power to protect food supplies, liberaliz[e] vaccine and medication development rules and helps state governments gear up" for a bioterrorism response, the Manchester Union Leader reports. At a cost of $2 billion to $3 billion, the bill, titled Pathogen Research and Emergency Preparedness and Response Effort, or PREPARE 2001, would "speed the release" of new vaccines and other treatments to fight against a bioterrorist attack. Gregg said the bill would shorten testing "regimes so that critical vaccines will come to market sooner than the 10 to 20 years it now takes." The measure also would offer drug manufacturers protection from lawsuits. Instead of filing multi-million dollar liability lawsuits, people who suffer side effects from the treatments would file "structured claims" against the drug maker similar to workers' compensation claims. Disagreeing with Canada's move to override Bayer's patent for Cipro, Gregg added that drug companies "ought to be encouraged to develop anti-bioterror weapons, not be faced with loss of income from products they manufacture." PREPARE 2001 also calls for increased coordination between state and local governments to assist in "prevention, detection control and response" to a bioterrorist attack and for expanded FDA "power" to inspect and hold food shipments, destroy "contaminated supplies" and prosecute those responsible. Gregg is asking Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to co-sponsor the bill "so it passes quickly," hoping to have it and "other key anti-terror" bills through Congress by mid-November (Fahey, Manchester Union Leader, 10/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.