HHS has lagged in releasing updates to its medical countermeasures strategy, which aims to prevent or treat exposure to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents used in terrorist and other threats, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
HHS lags on countermeasure updates: GAO
The GAO found that HHS created medical countermeasure development and acquisition priorities in 2007, but has not updated the plan since then and has not provided information about projected budget priorities for the acquisition of medical countermeasures, which include drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.
According to the GAO, HHS has invested roughly $1.9 billion in research and development and $2.4 billion in the acquisition of countermeasures from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2010. In addition, the agency established the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise, which provides medical countermeasure recommendations to HHS, in 2006.
HHS has not communicated information about the needed quantities and types of medical countermeasures to drug and device manufacturers that develop medical countermeasures since 2007, according to the GAO.
An updated plan is expected to be released to the public in spring 2012, HHS said in the report.
“The lack of an updated plan leaves HHS without assurance that its most current needs for countermeasures to address the greatest national security and public health risks have been clearly and transparently communicated to researchers and industry partners so that the most needed countermeasures are being developed,” said the GAO in its report.
HHS agreed with the GAO's recommendation that the agency update its development and acquisition plan. It said that it employs a strategy to monitor implementation, but the GAO argued that the current strategy does not meet standards and practices for adequate monitoring.
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