On Tuesday, April 12, the US House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill to speed the development of a treatment for the Zika virus. The bill was introduced by US Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D – NC) and U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D – MN), and according to the White House, is expected to be signed by President Obama.
If passed, the bill will add Zika to FDA’s priority review voucher program, which would help provide drug makers with an incentive to develop a vaccine for the virus. This program encourages companies to develop less cost-effective treatments for diseases that would not otherwise be attractive, and in exchange FDA reward the company by expediting the review of a more profitable drug in its pipeline.
The bill, which was passed by the Senate on March 17th, was approved by Congress on a voice vote. According to an article from Reuters, White House spokeswoman Katie Hill called this a “small step” that could encourage pharmaceutical companies to attempt to develop a treatment for Zika.