01.12.22

Senators Burr, Hickenlooper Introduce Bill to Bolster Research and Better Detect, Prepare Nation for Future Threats

Bipartisan bill would enhance early stage countermeasure discovery of dangerous pathogens

Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Chairman of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, introduced the Early Countermeasure Discovery Act. This legislation will enhance the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) collaboration with academic institutions, research centers, and relevant government agencies to support the research and development of medical countermeasures for pathogens with pandemic potential.

“Two years into this pandemic, it’s clear that early stage discovery of effective countermeasures to combat diseases that may cause a pandemic are critical to our nation’s safety,” said Senator Burr. “This is the time to prepare for the next potential threat. This legislation will help strengthen our medical countermeasure enterprise by improving our partnerships with the academic institutions researching and developing innovative products that target these threats. I’m proud to work with Senator Hickenlooper on this important initiative, as Senator Murray and I continue our work to craft effective, bipartisan solutions to address the gaps in our public health architecture.”

“COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic, but we can’t be caught off-guard again,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “Pandemic preparedness is possible, affordable, and irresponsible to ignore.”

Background:

The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act will direct the NIH to establish and support research programs with academic institutions to advance the discovery and preclinical development of medical products that target priority virus families and other dangerous pathogens of concern. Additionally, this legislation would improve the medical countermeasure research coordination between the NIH and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

On April 29, 2021, Senators Burr and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced their plan to develop bipartisan legislation to address the shortfalls in our nation’s federal COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

In this announcement, Senator Burr outlined key priorities, including strengthening our nation’s readiness within the medical countermeasure enterprise to ensure these medical products are rapidly identified and advanced through clinical development and manufacturing. The Early Countermeasure Discovery Act includes reforms to address these shortfalls experienced throughout the pandemic.