The Food and Drug Administration has formed a Task Force on Pandemic Influenza charged with helping to speed the development and production of vaccines, antivirals, and diagnostics.
This work will provide the basis for developing a comprehensive FDA action plan to combat pandemic influenza including the management of an avian flu outbreak among birds and ensuring the safety of the human food and animal feed supply.
“This is a commissioner's initiative that will bring together a cross-functional, intra-agency team,” acting FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., said in a memo to FDA staff members.
“The new task force will be charged with spearheading FDA's participation in the President's National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and the Department of Health and Human Services' Pandemic Influenza Plan,” he said.
The task force will incorporate the FDA Pandemic Influenza Rapid Response Team, a group formed in October to ensure an adequate supply of antivirals in case of a flu pandemic.
The task force, which held its first meeting last month, will be cochaired by Boris D.Lushniak, M.D., FDA's assistant commissioner for counterterrorism policy, and Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., FDA's assistant commissioner for policy. Other members are being drawn from the five FDA centers, the National Center for Toxicological Research, and various other FDA offices.