Bennet has led the fight in the Senate for emergency research funding to combat Zika virus
PharmaJet working with NIH on clinical trial for Zika vaccine
Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today visited PharmaJet in Golden, where the Colorado-based device company is involved in clinical trials with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to eventually deliver a Zika vaccine to high-risk patients. NIH clinical trials for Zika that incorporate PharmaJet's vaccine delivery system could be delayed if Congress does not approve emergency research funding soon. Bennet has led the fight in the Senate to pass more than $1 billion to combat the Zika virus.
"Colorado businesses like PharmaJet are on the leading edge of innovation in the fight to combat Zika and provide a real solution for Americans," Bennet said. "There are serious consequences when the only national clinical trial for a vaccine is at risk of being delayed, which is all the more reason Congress should get back to work and pass a clean and serious bill to help our researchers fight the spread of the disease. Zika is a public health emergency, and it is unconscionable that Congress hasn't taken it seriously. We've been calling for action since February, and the longer Congress waits, the greater the threat is to Americans."
PharmaJet developed a needle-free technology for vaccine delivery and is currently working with the NIH on clinical trials to help deliver a potential vaccine to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Following clinical trials, any Zika vaccine would then need to go before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for final approval.
The Administration recently warned Congress that funding to help fight the Zika virus could dry up by the end of the month. It also said it would shift $81 million from cancer research to the Zika virus to help continue research until Congress is able to approve additional funding.
In February, the Administration requested $1.9 billion for researchers to fight Zika. In May, Bennet joined the Senate, which overwhelmingly voted to advance a bipartisan bill to provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. Subsequently, the House passed an inadequate and irresponsible bill that included only $622 million, one third of the Administration's request. Bennet has urged both chambers to work across the aisle to finalize a serious funding package, including calling on Congressional leaders to reconvene both chambers of Congress to pass a clean funding bill to fight Zika.
Ahead of the Senate's vote in May, he pressed Congressional leaders to consider and pass emergency funding. In February, he joined 45 senators in urging the Administration to coordinate an interagency response plan to address the spread of the Zika virus both at home and abroad. Bennet and a group of senators introduced a bill to fund the request and called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to quickly approve the funding. In April, he joined his Senate colleagues in urging Senate leaders to immediately pass the emergency supplemental funding request to help combat the Zika outbreak.
Earlier this year, Bennet visited the CDC's Division for Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, where he toured the facility and received a briefing from researchers about their work to combat the Zika virus. In 2010, Bennet prevented funding cuts proposed by the Administration that would have virtually eliminated the vector-borne diseases program that is largely run out of the Fort Collins facility.