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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Medical Countermeasures

The Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) develops and procures the CBRN MCMs required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to mitigate the adverse health effects arising from public health emergencies. CBRN accomplishes this by supporting advanced research and development of MCMs against CBRN threats and establishing stockpiles of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics against these threats. Ultimately, these medical countermeasures are used to help the Nation prepare to respond to and recover from public health emergencies.

Leading Medical Countermeasures Advanced Research and Development

The Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) of 2006 established BARDA as the lead agency in HHS for MCM development. This legislation provided BARDA with authorities and funding that enable more flexible contracting to support advanced research and development of MCMs.

The Division of CBRN MCMs uses the authorities granted under PAHPA to enhance the overall MCM portfolio of CBRN candidate products and is now managing a portfolio of over 60 contracts and grants for the development of these countermeasures. The CBRN investments include funding for the advanced research and development of anthrax vaccines and therapeutics; smallpox vaccines and antivirals; broad spectrum antimicrobials; biodosimetry/diagnostics; radiological/nuclear countermeasures; and countermeasures to a variety of chemical threats. As part of a comprehensive strategy, the CBRN division is not only developing pipelines of products for each of these health threat but has also begun support for multi-use MCMs that may be used for a variety of other health threats (e.g. community acquired pneumonia) while providing a source of effective countermeasures in the event of a public health emergency response.

Stockpiling Lifesaving MCMs

The Division of CBRN MCMs is responsible for developing and establishing stockpiles of lifesaving vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics against CBRN threats. The Project BioShield Act of 2004 established the Special Reserve Fund (SRF), a one-time appropriation of $5.6 billion (2004 – 2013) to accelerate the research, development and acquisition of MCMs against CBRN threat agents. Eight Project BioShield programs have led to the acquisition of MCMs for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). These include an anthrax vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis, anthrax therapeutics, a novel smallpox vaccine, a smallpox antiviral drug, a botulinum antitoxin, and radiation countermeasures.

  • This page last reviewed: September 12, 2014