US Senators introduce bill on accelerating AIDS vaccine research

Two prominent US senators introduced legislation in Congress recently calling for increased funding to accelerate the research and development of vaccines for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, as well as other infectious diseases. The proposal, called the "Vaccines for the New Millennium Act of 2005", highlights several ways that both the US government and private industry can work to bring new and important vaccines to the people in greatest need.

The bill calls for an increase in the number of public-private partnerships as one strategy for achieving this objective, and mentions in particular IAVI, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and the Global TB Drug Facility as examples of these partnerships. Other strategies include exploring economic incentives for private companies to encourage them to get more involved in developing vaccines that target diseases primarily affecting developing countries. Among the incentives suggested are advance market commitments (see Spotlight, this issue), tax credits, and improved regulatory procedures.

Within the legislation, the senators that co-authored the bill cite several examples of how vaccines have had a profound impact on global health including the eradication of smallpox and drastically reducing rates of childhood mortality worldwide. The legislation is yet to receive approval by the US government.