House-Senate Conferees Fight Over Zika Funds As FDA Approves More Assays
This article was originally published in The Gray Sheet
Emergency funding to battle the summer's mosquito-borne Zika threat is trapped in a military/VA spending bill. Conferees must find a compromise between the House's $622m bid and the Senate's $1.1b offer in the thin stretch of time when both chambers will be session before they adjourn on July 15. In the interim, FDA has authorized more Zika tests.
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Congress managed to settle its disputes over funding riders Sept. 28 and passed a relatively clean bill that contains $1.1bn in emergency Zika virus response funding, and will keep government agencies – including US FDA – running at current spending levels until Dec. 9.
As Congress squabbles over a federal funding bill to fight the virus, FDA reviewers are taking on extra duties and working overtime to approve Zika diagnostics quickly, device chief Jeff Shuren says. The most recent emergency-use authorization targeting Zika extended the usability of a Hologic assay to more patients.
A blood-screening test made by Hologic in collaboration with Grifols, and another made by Roche Molecular Diagnostics, are being used in a gradual ramp-up of Zika virus screening at blood donation centers across the US under a new FDA program.