FDA commissioner: High drug prices are a 'public health concern the FDA should address'

The FDA will step up efforts to deal with the skyrocketing cost of prescription medicine by encouraging development of "complex" generic drugs, wrote FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in an Oct. 2 blog post.

The prices on these complex medicines, which hinder patient access to essential drugs, are a "public health concern the FDA should address," Dr. Gottlieb added.

While the agency doesn't control drug pricing, their policies can drive pricing decisions.

On Monday, Dr. Gottlieb outlined the agency's plan to increase patient access through   improving the efficiency of the generic drug approval process and closing loopholes that allow branded drug companies to fight generic competition.  

"Because brand-name versions of complex drug products are often higher-priced than many other brand name drugs, any steps we can take to encourage the development of generic competitors to complex drugs will have an outsized impact on access, and prices," Dr. Gottlieb wrote.

The agency's decision to encourage policies to address drug prices is unprecedented as the FDA has traditionally shied away from the drug-pricing debate, focusing instead on ensuring products are "safe and effective," according to The Hill.

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