Congress Approves Bill To Speed Up Research For Zika-Virus Cure, Florida Leads Nation In Cases
By Space Coast Daily // April 12, 2016
One day after officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the Zika virus was “scarier than we initially thought,” Congress approved legislation to speed up the development of vaccines and treatments to help curb the spread of the virus.
The House today approved legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and others to add the Zika virus to the Food and Drug Administration’s Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher Program, creating an incentive for drug makers to accelerate their search for a cure.
The legislation, approved by the Senate last month, now heads to the president’s desk to be signed in to law.
“The most effective way to stop the spread of this virus is to find a cure,” Nelson said.
“This legislation will help encourage drug companies to devote the resources needed to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.”
Adding the Zika virus to the FDA’s priority list creates an incentive for drug makers to dedicate the time and money needed to find a cure by offering companies that develop a treatment a voucher to expedite the FDA approval process of any other drug the company chooses.
Once awarded, a company can use a fast-track voucher to cut the time it takes the FDA to approve another drug of its choice from ten months to six, or sell it to another drug maker. In 2014, a fast-track voucher reportedly sold for $125 million.
In addition to filing the fast-track legislation Congress approved today, Nelson has repeatedly urged his congressional colleagues to grant the president’s request for an additional $1.9 billion to fight the virus, and was among the first to call on President Obama to appoint a Zika czar to coordinate the federal government’s overall response to the virus.
Florida currently leads the nation in reported cases of the virus with 85.