HHS in a new report outlines a more aggressive strategy for producing medications, vaccines, equipment and supplies needed for unforeseen health emergencies, tactics known as “medical countermeasures.”
HHS seeks quicker supplies for health crises
The nation is facing an increasingly dangerous landscape “where we don't know where the next public health crisis will come from,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference. It may be a dirty bomb in a car, a new virus or superbug, “or a biological weapon never seen before that was assembled by a terrorist.”
She and other federal health officials held the briefing to release The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise Review: Transforming the Enterprise to Meet Long-range National Needs, which reviewed the current process of countering unexpected threats to come up with a new blueprint to improve medical responses to health emergencies.
Sebelius requested the review after HHS faced challenges responding to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, according to the agency.
The strategy includes: upgrading science and regulatory capacity at the Food and Drug Administration; faster development of manufacturing processes that could be used for multiple medications or vaccines; encouraging and fostering young companies to bring products to market in an effort to increase the number of new countermeasures available in an emergency; creating new teams at the National Institutes of Health to identify promising research, which would translate into vaccines, drugs and treatments; and upgrading and expediting the process of flu vaccine manufacturing.
Sebelius said the federal government would be investing $2 billion to fund these key areas.
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