Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) applauded the U.S. Senate on Tuesday for its unanimous passage of a bill that adds the Ebola virus to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) priority review list.
Under the current law, research in vaccines and other treatment options for non-qualifying diseases are given a standard review time with the FDA, slated at 10 months. The priority review list allows the developers of would-be treatments and vaccines to receive an expedited review time of six months.
The addition of Ebola to this list is a major step forward, Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), said.
“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."
A fellow member of the HELP committee, Alexander agreed that this is a major step in the right direction that will hopefully lead to a cure.
The FDA Priority Review Voucher Program was signed into law in 2007 as a means to give incentives to companies to research treatment options for neglected diseases. It provides the expedited review voucher to companies to use with a future product.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday. It will now go to President Barack Obama to sign.