Fighting Valley Fever
Fighting Valley Fever
By Congressman Kevin McCarthy
This week, the House of Representatives is taking action against rare diseases such as Valley Fever.
Throughout our community, almost everyone knows someone who has battled Valley Fever. The trouble is, because it is unique to the southwest region of the United States, the market for medicine isn’t as strong as the flu, so our family and friends suffering through the illness have limited options for treatment. That is why I have been focused on providing our national health leaders at the CDC and the NIH a firsthand look at the struggle Valley Fever can cause and have pushed federal agencies to continue to take steps that could help incentivize potential treatments. We have achieved some positive gains in the fight to secure detection and treatment options for our neighbors suffering from Valley Fever. But there is more work to be done.
Valley Fever may be a disease contained by regional boundaries, but there are 7,000 rare diseases – and counting - throughout the world, and treatments for only 500. In the 21st Century, as technology and innovation have drastically improved our productivity and quality of life, we must seize this opportunity to expand the boundaries of treatment options and build the foundation for the next generation of medical breakthroughs.
This week, the House of Representatives is set to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which breaks down barriers to collaboration that are holding back potential research breakthroughs. It empowers the patient to be an active participant in the treatment process rather than the current bureaucratic one-size-fits-all approach. And it rethinks the outdated lifecycle, currently about 15 years, from the discovery of potential treatment to bringing a drug to market.
At the core, 21st Century Cures is intended to spur the innovative spirit that helped eradicate diseases that had previously plagued our communities, such as polio. But with a backlog of 6,500 diseases without cures or treatments, the demand for attention on rare diseases is high while the supply of resources is limited.
Fortunately, Valley Fever will be specifically targeted in this bill, thanks to our successful inclusion of the underlying fungi species responsible for Valley Fever as a “qualifying pathogen” within the Food and Drug Administration. This is another step forward in recognizing the importance in fighting this disease and eventually finding a potential cure or vaccine.
Since the Valley Fever Symposium here in our community, we have raised awareness and continue to move closer to finding treatments and a vaccine for this disease through a randomized controlled trial. This week’s consideration of the 21st Century Cures Act broadens out this momentum so we can help create the foundation for more treatments and cures to secure a healthier Central Valley.