The staff members of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ranking Member of HELP, have announced the release of a staff-level bipartisan discussion draft aimed at reauthorizing the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). This legislation is vital to strengthening the United States’ preparedness for future public health emergencies.
Joined by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), the senators made the draft public on July 3, seeking feedback from public health officials, health care providers, and stakeholders. Their goal is to gather valuable insights and expertise to improve the proposed legislation. The original PAHPA was first passed in 2006 and is set to expire on September 30, at the end of the fiscal year. Recognizing the urgency of reauthorizing this vital legislation, Chair Sanders, Ranking Member Cassidy, and Senators Casey and Romney
One notable aspect of the discussion draft is the inclusion of a provision proposed by Senator Sanders’ team. They are requesting feedback on a policy that would require all products supported by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be sold at a reasonable price either to the Federal Government or in the U.S. commercial market. This provision aims to ensure affordability and accessibility; however, this policy is still under discussion and has not been agreed upon.
Similarly, Senator Cassidy’s staff is seeking feedback on a policy intended to incentivize the development of additional medical countermeasures (MCMs). The proposed policy suggests extending the Priority Review Voucher program throughout the duration of PAHPA. Additionally, it aims to provide new, non-transferrable priority review vouchers to companies that develop new MCMs, in addition to the transferrable vouchers they currently receive. This provision is open for stakeholder feedback and is not yet agreed upon.
The HELP Committee held a hearing last month dedicated to the consideration of PAHPA reauthorization. Expert witnesses provided insights during the hearing, including Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, then-CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.
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