Florida members in House and Senate Object to Proposed Exclusive License of Zika Vaccine

Yesterday, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer expressing strong concerns regarding the proposed exclusive license of a federally-funded Zika vaccine to Sanofi, stating that, “If the Army chooses to move forward with its plan to provide Sanofi Pasteur an exclusive license to sell this vaccine, it must first obtain assurances that the vaccine will be affordable to all who need it.” Senator Nelson is a senior member of the Committee on the Armed Services.

Separately, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz led a group of nine House members from the state of Florida in sending a letter to Speer requesting a public hearing on the matter, noting that, “As members representing Florida, we are especially concerned of the potential for monopolistic practices that would effectively keep this lifesaving vaccine out of reach of far too many of our constituents.” The signatories of the House letter included Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23), Rep. Theodore Deutch (FL-22), Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05), Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14), Rep. Charlie Crist (FL-13), and Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20). Rep. Ros-Lehtingen is the first GOP member to speak out against the Sanofi/Army Zika license.

The letter goes on to request that the Army “(1) hold a public hearing on the proposed license so that the public and Sanofi can address concerns over the pricing of the vaccine, and (2) delay the decision regarding the exclusive license on the patent until after such public hearing has been held.”

For more information about this proposed license, see KEI’s page here: www.keionline.org/zika

Statement of Andrew Goldman, KEI Counsel for Policy and Legal Affairs:

“The two letters from members of Congress in Florida highlight the absurdity of paying for virtually all of the R&D for the vaccine, giving a French company a monopoly until 2036, and not having any conditions on the price before signing the license. The letters are especially poignant given that Florida is at high risk to Zika-related birth defects.”

Both letters are attached as PDF files.