November 02, 2014

Research Roundup: Midterm elections, Ebola legislation, HIV prevention research, and more

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

GHTC’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate Jenny Howell assesses how tomorrow’s congressional election results could impact global health research and development (R&D). With Republicans expected to gain seats in the House and take control of the Senate, shifts in the makeup and leadership of key committees with oversight over global health R&D are expected.

Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced their intention to introduce a new bill to accelerate the development of treatments and vaccines for Ebola. The bill would add Ebola to the list of qualifying tropical diseases for the Food and Drug Administration’s priority review voucher program—which is designed to incentivize the development of drugs, vaccines, and other health tools for neglected tropical diseases.

Emily Donaldson, program coordinator at AVAC, and Tom Harmon, senior policy analyst at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), discussed the state of HIV prevention research funding while the first-ever conference devoted solely to HIV prevention R&D took place last week in Cape Town, South Africa.

During his speech at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Bill Gates said he believes it is possible to eradicate malaria within a generation. To reach that goal, Gates pledged that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would increase its malaria program budget by 30 percent—to more than $200 million per year.

A group of European universities and medical groups plan to give experimental drugs to Ebola patients in West Africa without assigning any trial participants to a placebo group. These groups say it would be unethical to withhold potentially lifesaving treatment, but US officials argue that without a control group, it is impossible to assess whether the drugs are effective. The Wall Street Journal takes a deeper look at this debate.

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