Bill by Sherrod Brown to encourage timely development of Zika virus vaccine, treatment passes in the Senate

Staff report

A bill cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to encourage the timely development of a Zika virus vaccine and treatment passed in the Senate this week.

“When public health threats like Zika are no more than a plane ride away, we must make every effort to respond quickly to prevent the spread of illness,” said Sen. Brown. “By providing an incentive to companies who act quickly to develop vaccines or treatments for Zika, we will be better equipped to combat this disease and take the steps necessary to contain it and care for those who’ve come in contact with the virus. Today we are one step closer to adding Zika to the list of diseases eligible for an FDA priority review voucher, encouraging companies to invest important resources toward Zika prevention and response efforts.”

The bill, introduced in February, would add Zika to a key U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) program called the Priority Review Voucher Program, which encourages the development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases. Brown was instrumental in creating the Priority Review Voucher Program, which was established in 2007 after an amendment offered by Brown and his colleague Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) was included in the FDA Amendments Act of 2007.

Last week, Brown called on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund President Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency supplemental request to combat the Zika virus.

In addition to introducing legislation, Brown, along with U.S. Sens. Franken and Nelson, pressed the Department of Health and Human Services to add Zika to the Priority Review Voucher Program through a letter to the Agency. Brown also joined Senate Democrats to urge President Obama to take aggressive actions to address the spread of Zika and prevent outbreaks in the United States.

Staff report