Placeholder Banner

Jim Greenwood Op-Ed: Time to Fund Medical Countermeasures against Threats like Ebola

November 18, 2014
On Friday, The Hill published an op-ed from BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood calling on Congressional appropriators to fully fund federal biodefense programs, which partner with industry to develop medical countermeasures against Ebola as well as other threats like smallpox, anthrax, and botulism toxin.
President Obama’s supplemental Ebola funding request last week asked Congress to appropriate $157 million in funding for BARDA and $238 million for the National Institutes of Health to support Ebola MCM development and production. This funding is a good first step, but much more must be done if we wish to be prepared not only for Ebola, but for other future threats.

The best way to accomplish that is with robust, stable funding of federal biodefense programs. The bipartisan authorizers of the SRF, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) have called for their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to do just that by appropriating in advance its remaining authorized funds of $2.45 billion. As the chief architects of the SRF, they understand well that the program can best fulfill its critical role only with reliable and sufficient funding.

Investments in BARDA and the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund are a modest, yet critical, insurance policy against deadly threats. There is no doubt that the constrained fiscal environment in which Congress operates forces tough decisions, but it is vital that we not lose sight of the importance of preparing for the worst. The Ebola crisis demonstrates that the current funding level for biodefense is inadequate. While biopharmaceutical companies and the government are doing everything possible to speed the development of vaccines and therapies for Ebola, the reality is that developing a new medicine often takes many years. If we want to be prepared for the next outbreak – whatever and whenever that might be – we need to begin today with adequate funding for federal biodefense programs.

Read the full piece here.