The FORWARD Act is the latest attempt at Valley Fever legislation. The Finding Orphan-disease Remedies with Antifungal Research and Development (FORWARD) Act (H.R. 2858 and S. 1567) will promote specific programs for Valley Fever and other fungal diseases. This was produced and released with bipartisan cooperation this week from Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), U.S. Senator Martha McSally (AZ), Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06), Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Congressman Greg Stanton (AZ-09), and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).
Hailed as a major step forward for Valley Fever “The FORWARD Act is designed to advance sustained efforts to combat Valley Fever in the short, medium, and long-term.” It will do the following things:
- Create a blockchain system for disease research. Blockchain technology is often associated with finance. In this case it will be a useful way for researchers to access and share data.
- Create a federal working group for fungal disease research, including Valley Fever.
- Change the approval process for new tests and treatments.
- Encourage partnerships to create new drugs and treatments based on the “Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator” (CARB-X) program.
- Increase federal incentives for medical research.
The goals are all good and worthy. CARB-X will not complete spending its millions of dollars until 2021, and the results it generates against antibiotic resistant bacteria may not even be known then. However this type of program, as proposed in the FORWARD act, is hoped to result in useful and novel antifungal research that might not have been conducted otherwise.
One thing notably NOT included is an preventative warning to people about the Valley Fever risk before they enter a risk area. In the legal environment that involves warnings and disclosures on cigarettes, ladders, and homes where previous residents died, even beyond California’s Proposition 65, endemic areas and their residents are opening themselves to needless lawsuits – and even if the lawsuits themselves don’t succeed, there may be hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements, as there have been in the past. Worse, visitors and would-be new residents should want to know that they are entering an area containing a naturally occurring biohazard. This ethical problem is not addressed by the FORWARD Act.
The press release with more information is available here:
Learn more about the CARB-X program here: