Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced the Vaccines for the New Millennium Act today, legislation that provides incentives to private sector biotech and pharmaceutical companies to accelerate development of vaccines for the world's most deadly infectious diseases. "Every year, TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS kill over seven million people," Pelosi said. "Vaccines are our best hope to bring these and other epidemics under control. But accelerated research efforts are needed if we are to develop these vaccines in the near future. I am grateful for Senator Kerry's leadership on this issue and I am pleased to be introducing this bill with him today."
Last year Representative Pelosi and Senator Kerry introduced the Lifesaving Vaccine Technology Act which provided a 30% tax credit on qualified R&D expenditures on vaccines for malaria, TB, HIV, and other diseases that kill one million or more people annually. The credit also applied to R&D costs for microbicides to prevent these diseases. In his State of the Union address, President Clinton responded to this call for action by proposing a tax credit on sales of these vaccines in order to encourage private sector research efforts and to speed delivery of the vaccines when they are available.
The Vaccines for the New Millennium Act expands on last year's effort by incorporating the President's tax credit and adding several new pieces: an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act making universal vaccination a major US goal, a $50 million contribution to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), a vaccine purchase fund, and creation of a commission to oversee public/private vaccine partnerships. Companies using the tax credits in this bill to produce a licenced vaccine would be obligated to establish a good-faith plan for global access to the vaccine.
"Vaccines are our best hope to control the epidemics of TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS, yet there are significant disincentives for private sector research and development investment in vaccines for these infectious diseases," Pelosi said. "The legislation we are introducing will leverage private sector resources, and encourage the market to work more effectively to address the biggest public health opportunities."
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