A pandemic cure written in secrecy
Congress needs to scrutinize a bill designed to partner government with private industry to combat bioterrorism and pandemics. The need for faster...
Congress needs to scrutinize a bill designed to partner government with private industry to combat bioterrorism and pandemics.
The need for faster drug development to respond to such threats is clear. But the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005 has some provisions that could gut public accountability and strip people injured by vaccines of any recourse. Introduced Oct. 17 by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Senate Bill 1873 was approved by committee voice-vote only a day later. A Burr spokesman said negotiations were ongoing to ensure bipartisan support before the bill comes to the floor.
One overreaching passage would exempt the newly created Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency's duties, activities and advisory boards from two key public accountability laws.
One is the Federal Advisory Committee Act, enacted to ensure advice given to the executive branch by advisory committees, task forces, boards and commissions is available to the public.
BARDA also would be the only federal agency exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, a well-used citizen tool for probing the inner workings of government.
Not even the Homeland Security Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have this luxury. It's hard to imagine why BARDA would need it, especially considering the information act has several exemptions that permit secrecy, including for national security.
Something else raising hackles with consumer groups is the bill's apparently blanket protection from lawsuits for manufacturers of drugs developed for pandemics or biosecurity.
Proponents of the public-access exemptions say the agency might need to keep information from the public to avoid widespread panic. But where is the accountability?
An agency that has a free pass to keep all kinds of secrets would over time breed more distrust than confidence.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(Courtesy of LeMay — America's Car Museum) New LeMay exhibit to look at NASCAR LeMay — America's Car Museum in Tacoma will look at the wil...
Post a comment