Friday, August 28, 2015
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reiterates his support for research to defeat Valley Fever
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"First, I want to congratulate my friend Jean Fuller. The California Senate will be well-served under her leadership and California's future will absolutely be brighter as a result. I know Senator Fuller
"This week, the Kings, Tulare, and Kern Counties’ 3rd California Coccidioidomycosis Collaborative meeting took place at the Tulare Department of Public Health. Of particular importance at that meeting was the presentation of additional details of the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) protocol from the National Institutes of Health. The RCT to be conducted by the NIH was one of the major announcements from the Valley Fever Symposium held in our community a few years ago.
"As we know all too well, everyone in our community knows someone who has battled Valley Fever. The path forward to treat Valley Fever – on the other hand – has been less clear. Two years ago we made a commitment to change that and put together the Valley Fever Symposium in Kern County. The event served as an important opportunity to educate the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as other leaders in the medical community on this disease.
"Since then, I can confidently say that we have made positive strides in the endeavor to better understand and treat Valley Fever. But we have more work to do.
"As I detailed earlier, after the Symposium we successfully had the FDA include Valley Fever as a “qualifying pathogen” which gives priority review to Valley Fever treatment and vaccine drug applications. And because of that listing, the passage of 21st Century Cures out of the House has specific impact in the fight against Valley Fever. Within that bill we were able to direct the NIH to use a research strategic plan that identifies how the innovation fund will address areas of unmet need for infectious diseases, such as Valley Fever.
"I continue to make it a priority that Congress demonstrates strong Congressional support for NIH and CDC efforts to develop a Valley Fever RCT. In June it was announced that $5 million was awarded to Duke University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit to achieve this step. Duke has also selected community experts on Valley Fever to assist with this trial.
"The primary goal of the trial research will be to assess the safety and effectiveness of fluconazole (an anti-fungal medicine that is the primary treatment candidate) as treatment for people in affected regions who develop pneumonia (30 percent of pneumonia cases are the affected region are caused by Valley Fever). The next goal that NIH and CDC hope to get out of the trial is increased public awareness. By working in the places where the disease primarily occurs, the medical community will learn more about the disease and apply that knowledge in their practice – improving the recognition and management of early onset Valley Fever and enhancing community awareness. Further, this trial will help better recognize the early stages of the disease and generate new questions.
"The research that will be produced over the next year will be instrumental in raising critical awareness within the medical community and the general public by utilizing that new knowledge in their everyday practices.
"By continuing these collaborative meetings, we are ensuring that the valley will be able to tackle Valley Fever as one community.