GOP wants faster drug approvals in emergencies

Republican senators will focus on ways to speed up the approval of certain vaccines as they move forward on an emergency preparedness bill.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday criticized the process that was used to make vaccines available during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. Some vaccines could only be made available under an "emergency use authorization," which he said the Health and Human Services Department was too slow to issue.

"We actually had kids in this country die" because the process took too long, Burr said during a Senate Health committee hearing on the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, or PAPHA.

He said negotiations over reauthorizing PAPHA will include a serious look at how to speed access to drugs during an emergency. Burr was the lead Republican sponsor of the bill.

"We're going to have quite a discussion … about whether we need to redefine emergency use authority," he said.