The US Department of Health and Human Services will sponsor the advanced development of a next-generation portable ventilator to help fill the need for portable, low-cost, user-friendly and flexible ventilators in a pandemic or other public health emergency.

The new ventilator will be developed under a three year, $13.8 million contract with Philips Respironics of Murrysville, PA.

The project will be overseen by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

“In pandemics and other emergencies, doctors must have medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and critical equipment such as mechanical ventilators at the ready in order to save lives,” said BARDA Director Robin Robinson, PhD.

In a severe influenza pandemic and potentially in other public health emergencies, a large number of severely ill patients would require mechanical ventilation. This number could overwhelm the capacity of the health care system to provide such care, both in the number of ventilators available and staff trained to operate them.

The innovative ventilator in development will leverage advanced technology to reduce the size and cost and will be designed in a way that doctors, nurses and other health professionals can operate without special training. The next-generation ventilator also will be designed to be manufactured quickly to meet a surge in the number of patients who need ventilators if more ventilators are needed than could be stockpiled.