On Tuesday, February 9th, Senators Al Franken (D – MN), Johnny Isakson (R – GA), and Sherrod Brown (D – OH), introduced a bill to encourage drug makers to develop treatments for the Zika virus by adding it to FDA’s Priority Review Voucher Program, a program that encourages the development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases.
According to a press release, the bill “would help to accelerate the development of a vaccine and treatments for the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that spread rapidly throughout South America and has made its way to the United States.”
Zika currently has a presence in 26 countries, and throughout the past year, the virus has infected thousands of people. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the spread of Zika to be an international public health emergency. Currently, there is no treatment or cure for the virus.
According to Senator Nelson, “the most effective way to stop the spread of this virus is to find a cure. This bill gives researchers an incentive to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.”
In addition to the legislation that was introduced, the Senators also sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeking to add Zika to the Priority Review Voucher Program.
As Zika continues to become a larger health risk to all, it will be interesting to learn more and watch as this bill travels through the legislative process.