Bills would help federal agencies protect against dangerous pathogens, conduct essential oversight
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper’s bills to help federal agencies prevent and respond to future pandemics passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The Emerging Pathogens Preparedness Program Authorization Act and the Gene Synthesis Safety and Security Act – both introduced with Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) – passed as a part of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Response Act (PAHPARA), which now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.
Hickenlooper’s Emerging Pathogens Preparedness Program Authorization Act would establish a specialized team at the FDA to defend against emerging pathogens by focusing on the efficient review and approval of new vaccines. Hickenlooper also introduced the Gene Synthesis Safety and Security Act, a bill included in the underlying legislation, that would empower the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct critical oversight of the gene synthesis industry to protect against the misuse of dangerous biological agents.
“We know that a pandemic is going to come, it’s just a matter of time,” said Hickenlooper. “But steps like those in this bill today are necessary to save lives and protect our economy when that next pandemic does come.”
The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act was first passed into law in 2006. Since then, it has been essential to our country’s public health emergency response. The Senate HELP committee has made PAHPA reauthorization, and strengthening the federal response to future infectious disease outbreaks, one of its main legislative priorities.
Hickenlooper has also been a strong supporter of the Regional Disaster Health Response System Authorization, which was reauthorized as part of PAHPARA. Denver Health is currently one of the only hospital systems in the country that has a dedicated association that oversees the regional response to infectious disease outbreaks.
A one-page explainer on the Emerging Pathogens Preparedness Program Authorization Act is available HERE, and the Gene Synthesis Safety and Security Act HERE.
Full bill text is available HERE and HERE.