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Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007

February 15, 2007

"Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007” Calls for Financial Support for Advance Market Commitments

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) applauds Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) for his leadership in introducing “Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007” legislation. His proposal calls for a comprehensive strategy to speed the development, testing and distribution of vaccines and other new prevention technologies to address global killers, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which kill more than five million per year. It advocates specifically for new government incentives, increased direct funding for R&D, improved regulatory procedures and support for intellectual property issues and clinical trials to accelerate product development for these and other diseases.

Building upon previous bipartisan legislation introduced to U.S. Congress, “Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007” calls for the authorization of U.S. financial support for a pilot Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for a vaccine to prevent pneumonia and meningitis, which kill more than one million children each year. An AMC is a legally binding contract for product purchase that includes a fair market price for a guaranteed number of treatments, providing a market incentive to attract private sector investment. The pilot was recently endorsed by Canada, Italy Norway, Russia and the United Kingdom in an announcement on February 9, 2007 and will pave the way for AMCs for future products, such as an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

The bill recognizes the need for greater investment by the private sector in the research and development (R&D) of urgently needed global health products. Commercial funding from large pharmaceutical and biotech companies currently represents less than 10 percent of AIDS vaccine R&D investment. Uncertain markets limit the prospective attractiveness for industry to invest in diseases of resource-poor nations. As a result, the vaccine field has been unable to harness the private sector’s unique expertise in innovation, product development and manufacturing. New incentives, such as those called for in “The Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007,” can play a key role in increasing engagement.

IAVI’s CEO and President, Dr. Seth Berkley, said, “We look forward to working with Senator Lugar, additional co-sponsors, and other interested parties towards the prompt adoption of this bill, as well as the introduction of a companion bill in the House. This legislation will help speed the search for vaccines and other new prevention technologies to eradicate diseases that are causing widespread suffering for people in the developing world. We hope that other countries with biotechnology and pharmaceutical expertise that could contribute to the search for an AIDS vaccine will evaluate and implement similar national programs.”

The bill recognizes the critical importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs), such as IAVI, who are playing “a cutting edge role in the efforts to develop [an AIDS] vaccine.” PPPs have dramatically strengthened global efforts to create critical new health tools and currently account for approximately 75 percent of all identified neglected disease drug development projects. “Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007” also calls for increased funding for public-private partnerships, including IAVI.

Infectious and parasitic diseases – including AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected diseases – cause nearly 11 million deaths each year, the majority in resource-poor nations. The illness and premature deaths perpetuate poverty and cause tremendous suffering. National-level strategies and financial incentives, such as those endorsed by “The Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007,” are essential to help develop better prevention tools for the future. IAVI urges the U.S. Senate to adopt this important legislation as soon as possible.