Supporters of the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for vaccines had much to toast this month as five countries--Britain, Canada, Italy, Norway and Russia--put forward $1.5 billion to support the first AMC for pneumococcal disease, the leading cause of childhood pneumonia deaths, and the second leading cause of childhood meningitis deaths worldwide. Notably absent from the AMC launch in Rome, was the U.S. (See CGD President Nancy Birdsall's blog arguing it isnâ€™t too late for U.S. leadership on AMCs.) But now, a glass can also be raised to Senator Lugar (R-IN), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for leading the charge for U.S. support of AMCs.
Last week, Senator Lugar introduced the "Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007" (pdf), a bill to accelerate the development of vaccines for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases that disproportionately affect populations in developing countries. In an op-ed in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Lugar argues that key ingredients in the success of public health victories like smallpox and polio eradication were vaccines, global partnership, and U.S. leadership:
But, disappointingly, the United States has not yet joined in funding the first vaccine under this groundbreaking plan, even though the Bush administration worked with other countries to develop the Advance Market Commitment idea and made an earlier commitment to support it.
That's why I have introduced the "Vaccines for the Future Act" to authorize the United States to contribute to the Advance Market Commitment for pneumococcal vaccines. Equally important, it will require the administration to develop a comprehensive strategy and commit to speed development, testing and distribution of life-saving vaccines through innovative financial incentives like the AMC.
The pneumococcal vaccine is a good choice for the first AMC because these diseases kill an estimated 1.6 million people each year, up to one million of them children. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries; Africa is particularly hard hit.
Lugar urges the Bush administration and Congress to support the AMCs through the "Vaccines for the Future Act" and in doing so, solve a "humanitarian problem that lends itself to a market-based solution."
Cheers too to U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN), who plans to introduce the companion legislation to Lugar's "Vaccines for the Future Act of 2007" in the House of Representatives.