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Harkin, Alexander Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Ebola Treatments Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today applauded unanimous Senate passage of the Adding Ebola to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act. The bill was unanimously approved by the HELP Committee in November and now goes to the House.

“We have seen real progress as the U.S. response to Ebola continues, but as the disease rages on in West Africa, it is critical that we continue to use all of the tools in our arsenal to fight Ebola," Harkin said. "Today the Senate took a strong step to support that mission by passing this bipartisan bill to incentivize the development of Ebola treatments and vaccines. I urge my colleagues in the House to also pass this bill quickly and send it to the President’s desk.”

Alexander said: “The world is in desperate need of a vaccine to prevent Ebola and a drug to treat it. I’m glad the Senate has moved quickly to pass this bill to spur the development of these vaccines and drugs—an important step in the fight against Ebola, which we hope will one day help lead to a cure.” 

The Adding Ebola to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act would add Ebola to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) priority review voucher program, which Congress first authorized in 2007 to promote the development of new treatments and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. Under the program, a developer of a vaccine or treatment for a qualifying tropical disease receives a voucher for FDA priority review to be used with a second product of its choice, or this voucher can be sold. 

Because Ebola is not considered a qualifying disease under current law, developers of Ebola treatments and vaccines currently do not qualify for the program. This bill would change that and immediately add Ebola to the program – a step that would add another tool to help fight Ebola. The bill also makes changes to improve the functioning of the program and allow FDA to respond more efficiently to infectious disease ‎threats in the future.