Priority Review Voucher

Priority Review Voucher

The priority review voucher is a prize awarded to the developer of a treatment for Neglected Diseases. The prize was proposed by Duke University faculty Henry Grabowski, Jeffrey Moe, and David Ridley in their 2006 "Health Affairs" paper: "Developing Drugs for Developing Countries." [ Developing Drugs For Developing Countries - Ridley et al. 25 (2): 313 - Health Affairs ] ] In 2007 Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sponsored an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. President George W. Bush signed the bill in September 2007.


The prize is an incentive for companies to invest in new drugs and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. A provision of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (HR 3580) awards a transferable “priority review voucher” to any company that obtains approval for a treatment for a neglected tropical disease. Sponsored by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), this provision adds to the market based incentives available for the development of new medicines for developing world diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness.

The Mechanism

The statute authorizes the FDA to award a priority review voucher to the sponsor (manufacturer) of a newly approved drug or biologic that targets a neglected tropical disease. The provision applies to New Drug Applications (NDAs), Biological License Applications (BLAs) and 505(b)(2) applications.The voucher, which is transferable and can be sold, entitles the bearer to a priority review for another product.

Under current Prescription Drug User Fee Act targets, the FDA aims to complete and act upon reviews of priority drugs within 6 months instead of the standard 10 month review period. Actual FDA review timelines, however, can be longer than the target PDUFA review periods, particularly for new products that haven’t previously been approved. Economists at Duke University, who published on this concept in 2006, estimated that priority review can cut the FDA review process from an average of 18 months down to six months, shortening by as much as a full year the time it takes for the company’s drug to reach the market.

For a company with a top selling drug with a net present value close to $3 billion, the Duke researchers calculated the accelerated approval could be worth over $300 million. At this level, the voucher would be expected to offset the substantial investment and risk required for discovery and development of a new treatment for a neglected disease. If the time saved from gaining a priority review is much shorter, however, the value of the voucher will be significantly less. In fact, in 2006, median standard review times were 12 months, suggesting that a voucher could cut six months from the standard review period.

An intangible benefit of the voucher is the value created for a company if the faster reviewprovides them "first mover advantage," allowing the voucher holder's product to be introduced ahead of a similar, competing product. By taking advantage of existing market forces, patients in the developing world can have faster access to lifesaving products that may not otherwise be developed. And sponsors of neglected disease drugs can be rewarded for their innovations. []

Companies that use the voucher will be required to pay a supplemental priority review user fee to ensure that the FDA can recoup the costs incurred by the agency for the faster review. The additional user fee also aims to ensure that the new program will not slow the progress of other products awaiting FDA review.

Diseases Targeted

The tropical diseases that will benefit include the following: [ H.R. 3580 ] ]
*Blinding trachoma.
*Buruli Ulcer.
*Dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever.
*Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease).
*Human African trypanosomiasis.
*Lymphatic filariasis.
*Soil transmitted helmithiasis.
*Any other infectious disease for which there is no significant market in developed nations and that disproportionately affects poor and marginalized populations.

The Amendment

The amendment can be found on page 150 of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007.

News and Reaction

Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2008. [ [ Bill Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ] ]

The latest news and reactions concerning the priority review voucher can accessed through the following link:


First, the voucher prize might be too small. Diseases with incredible burdens might merit more resources. The Advance Market Commitment, proposed by Michael Kremer and colleagues, calls for creating a $3 billion market for neglected diseases with high burdens, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Second, the voucher prize might be too large, if it rewards research which would have been done anyway, or research with low value. Aidan Hollis of the University of Calgary notes that "firms which are developing very profitable products will be rewarded even more". While some treatments for neglected diseases are lucrative, this is generally not the rule, which is why the diseases are neglected.

Third, the voucher prize encourages innovation, but does not pay for access to existing therapies. Funding from governments or foundations might be needed to purchase treatments for poor people. Aidan Hollis of the University of Calgary has commented that the proposal does not address "the access problem, but helps to increase incentives through creating distortions in markets in developed countries".

Fourth, the voucher prize might tie up FDA resources. Fortunately, however, the law includes an extra fee paid by manufacturers to the FDA and requires that voucher bearers provide FDA with a year notice before using a voucher.



*"New Market Incentive to Encourage Innovation for Global Health", BIO Ventures for Global Health,

External links

*Paper co-author David Ridley talks about the priority review voucher at the National Press Club (Begin Video at 21:20)
* [ Financial Times coverage of the Priority Review Voucher]
* [ Professor Aidan Hollis' critique of Priority ReviewVoucher]

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