The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded a $6.7m contract to Newport Medical Instruments for three years, which fills the need for domestically manufactured, low-cost, user-friendly and flexible ventilators.

The ventilators are intended to provide respiratory support for large numbers of severely ill patients when mass casualties and shortages of experienced care providers may be expected, during a severe influenza pandemic or other public health emergency.

The contract supports development of ventilators that utilise advanced technology (also portability and environmental factors, cost, and suitability for stockpiling), easier for healthcare providers to use without special training, and can be used for a wider patient population.

The contract calls for a cost of less than $3,000 per complete unit and the portable ventilators with all the developmental features BARDA requires currently range from $6,000 to $30,000 per unit.

The contract also promotes domestic production, including pilot development, of the fully kitted, next-generation portable ventilators.