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CLSA Hosts Program on Pandemic Preparedness with CDC Director; Update on Related Federal Legislation
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August 6, 2016

On July 28, CLSA hosted a program on “Pandemic Preparedness: The Public-Private Research and Response Infrastructure” in La Jolla, Calif. Part of CLSA’s Afternoon with Thought Leaders series and held in conjunction with our 3rd quarter Board meeting, the event examined critical partnerships between stakeholders in the numerous public health agencies, non-profits and private industry as well as how our nation’s pandemic preparedness and response infrastructure can be improved.

The keynote was delivered via private webcast by Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Frieden spoke to the important work the CDC is doing, and highlighted both successes and challenges the agency encounters in its preparedness programs. Following the keynote, attendees heard from a panel of experts from the private sector on pandemic preparedness. They included David Ecker, Ph.D., Divisional Vice President, Carlsbad Site General Manager, Abbott; Rekha Murthy, M.D., Vice President, Medical Affairs, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Medicine, Cedars Sinai Medical Center; Quita Highsmith, Franchise Head for Tamiflu, Genentech; and Bill Lee, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research, Gilead Sciences. A special thanks to Penny Heaton, M.D., Director of Vaccine Development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for moderating the discussion. CLSA will publish a white paper of the events proceedings this Fall.

The Afternoon with Thought Leaders program was just the latest of CLSA’s activities in the pandemic preparedness space this year. Before the Congressional recess, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 3299, the Strengthening Public Health Emergency Response Act by a vote of 36-15, with all California delegation Committee members voting in favor of the bill, with the exception of Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), who was not present and did not vote. This legislation is an important step forward in ensuring our nation’s biodefense infrastructure is adequately prepared in the event of a bioterrorism event or pandemic outbreak by incentivizing the research and development of medical countermeasures. The full House of Representatives will vote on the bill after the August recess, and the Senate companion bill (S. 2055, the Medical Countermeasure Innovation Act) is expected to move quickly as well. CLSA has been actively encouraging Members to vote on this critical piece of legislation, and will continue to do so as this and other biodefense legislation move through Congress this fall. CLSA’s letter of support is available here.

Questions? Please contact Jenny Carey, CLSA’s Vice President, Federal Government Relations & Alliance Development (jcarey@califesciences.org).