Greenwood Praises Passage of Pandemic Influenza Plan

Dec 22, 2005, 00:00 ET from Biotechnology Industry Organization

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of
 the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), released the following
 statement on Congress' vote to pass President Bush's National Strategy for
 Pandemic Influenza, as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill:
     "The implementation of the President's National Strategy for Pandemic
 Influenza takes the first step on the path for the US to develop a domestic
 vaccine industry that will substantially improve our national security and our
 health security. I applaud the President for his leadership. Today's
 legislation provides critical resources to stockpile existing therapies and to
 accelerate the development of new, innovative countermeasures -- the vaccines
 and antiviral medications that are likely to be more effective against a
 pandemic flu strain.
     "This legislation is more than just resources for the government purchase
 of existing and new therapies. It provides a framework for a comprehensive
 strategy, a compensation program for potentially injured parties, an infusion
 of funding and coordination to help develop our nation's vaccine
 infrastructure, and will lead to the creation of new therapies and
     "The plan passed by the Congress is balanced. This legislation does not
 provide for the same level of liability protection that the industry received
 as part of the smallpox vaccine program passed by Congress two years ago.
 However, I am hopeful that the provisions passed in this bill will reduce the
 risk of frivolous lawsuits, while ensuring that bad conduct is appropriately
 punished through both government enforcement action and private civil lawsuits
 for damages. In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to ensure
 this program is fully funded.
     "It has become clear during the last few years that our nation's vaccine
 infrastructure needs to be augmented -- both research and development as well
 as manufacturing -- and we believe this legislation will provide that impetus.
 I am optimistic that this plan will lead to opportunities for more companies
 to enter the vaccine business, increasing the capacity and diversity of our
 nation's vaccine industry.
     "Biotechnology companies are the leaders in the production of existing
 vaccines and therapies and the development of novel countermeasures. BIO
 member companies, because of their cutting-edge science and innovative
 research, make an important contribution to pandemic preparedness.
     "I want to personally acknowledge the important work by the Congress on
 this legislation -- in particular, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House
 Speaker Denny Hastert. Each has worked for years on improving our nation's
 public health preparedness and national security, both of which will be vastly
 enhanced due to their strong efforts.
     "Moreover, this important legislation could not have been achieved without
 the initiative of the President and Secretary of Health and Human Services
 Mike Leavitt. The Administration has had the foresight to develop the
 President's proposal, which formed the basis for the legislation. As a result,
 the federal government through this plan will take the steps necessary to
 ensure we are prepared in the event of an influenza pandemic," Greenwood
     BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic
 institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the
 United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research
 and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental
 biotechnology products.

SOURCE Biotechnology Industry Organization