Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced their intention to introduce a bill to speed the development of treatments and vaccines for Ebola by adding Ebola to FDA’s priority review “voucher” program, a program at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designed to incentivize the development of new drugs for neglected tropical diseases. Currently Ebola is not listed as a qualifying tropical disease. The Harkin-Alexander bill, which will be introduced when Congress reconvenes, will seek to add Ebola as a qualifying disease under the program.
The bill would add Ebola to FDA’s 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 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.
It's an interesting idea worthy of immediate discussion and debate.