Legislation would add Zika to FDA program that helps speed up prevention, treatment options for tropical diseases
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation that would help to accelerate the development of a vaccine and treatments for the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that has spread rapidly throughout South America and has made its way to the United States.
The legislation would add the Zika virus to the Priority Review Voucher Program for neglected tropical diseases, a key Food and Drug Administration program that would encourage the development of vaccines and treatments for the disease.
“Zika virus poses a serious public health threat, and with its rapid rise in cases including in the United States, we need to take action. This legislation is designed to help accelerate a vaccine and treatment options for this disease,” said Isakson.
Over the past year, over 1 million people have been infected by the Zika virus in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The type of mosquito involved in transmitting the virus is also found in many parts of the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered in Atlanta, is actively monitoring the spread of this outbreak.
The World Health Organization recently labeled Zika virus a global public health emergency and at this time there is no known vaccine or treatment for the virus. The most common symptoms of the virus are mild, but in certain cases reports suggest it may be associated with serious birth defects—including microcephaly, which has been linked to developmental delays and other life-threatening problems for newborns.
Isakson joined Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in introducing the legislation.