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Sat, Dec. 14

Arizona Senators committed to combating Valley Fever

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema met with Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls earlier this month. Sinema and Sen. Martha McSally have joined efforts to eradicate Valley Fever. (Office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema photo)

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema met with Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls earlier this month. Sinema and Sen. Martha McSally have joined efforts to eradicate Valley Fever. (Office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema photo)

KINGMAN – Arizona Senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema joined the effort of a group of Arizona and California legislators determined to eradicate Valley Fever.

“Whether it’s a neighbor, family member, or co-worker, most Arizonans know someone who’s been affected by Valley Fever. I’m committed to advancing research and finding a cure so we can keep Arizonans healthy,” Sinema said.

The bill would address the short-term, medium-term, and long-term challenges to detecting, treating, and eventually eradicating Valley Fever.

“Valley Fever poses a critical health risk in Arizona, with nearly two-thirds of all cases nationwide occurring in our state,” McSally said. “The FORWARD Act aids in research, treatment, and most importantly, prevention of Valley Fever to deliver assistance to our communities in need. We need to take this seriously and ensure that resources are invested in the fight against this disease.”

The bill S. 1567, the Finding Orphan-disease Remedies with Antifungal Research and Development (FORWARD) Act is designed to offer support and prioritize basic research for Valley Fever and other fungal diseases and establish a blockchain pilot program so that medical researchers can more easily access clinical data. It will create a federal working group to coordinate research efforts on Valley Fever and fungal diseases, then streamline the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process to establish new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.

The bill’s long-term goal is to incentivize the development of a Valley Fever vaccine by extending expedited approval pathways for antifungal vaccines at FDA and creating a FDA priority review voucher program for endemic orphan fungal diseases to further promote the development of new treatments, cures, and vaccines for diseases, such as Valley Fever.

At the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence, there are both potential cures and preventative vaccines ready for testing if only the funding for these breakthroughs was available.

“As someone who has been living with the most serious form of Valley Fever for more than seven years, I have seen the damage this disease does to patients and their families,” said Rob Purdie, patient and program development coordinator at the Valley Fever Institute in Bakersfield, California. “I have also seen the amazing passion of my doctors at the Valley Fever Institute and other doctors and researchers. New research, drugs and vaccines are desperately needed to mitigate the effects of this disease. The bipartisan effort of the House and Senate in introducing these sister bills offers a light at the end of a very long and often dark tunnel for patients and their families dealing with Valley Fever.”

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