Does Donald Trump want to streamline the FDA and speed new drugs to patients? The Washington Post thinks that it can read the tea leaves:
A single sentence in President-elect Donald Trump’s health-care platform sends a strong hint to the drug and medical device industry that they may have an easier time getting their products on the market under his administration.
“Reform the Food and Drug Administration, to put greater focus on the need of patients for new and innovative medical products,” his health plan states.
On the face of it, the bullet point may seem almost bland, but efforts to integrate patients’ preferences and encourage innovation often result in proposals aimed at speeding up the process for getting new medicines on the market by easing regulations. Critics argue that such efforts can erode standards that are in place to protect patients from drugs that don’t work and might even be harmful.
“The language … is industry code for deregulation and reducing of safety standards,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog.
There is plenty of evidence that the FDA is too slow (see, for example, here, here, here and here) so I would support such a move. Senators Cruz and Lee proposed a reciprocity bill last term under which drugs approved in other developed countries would quickly be approved here; perhaps such a bill could find renewed interest in a Trump administration (Economists also support the idea of reciprocity.)
On the other hand, Trump has expressed support for Medicare being allowed to negotiate drug prices which is tantamount to price controls given the size of Medicare and that is potentially a disaster. Price controls could significantly reduce research and development in the pharmaceutical industry and end up greatly adding to the invisible graveyard. Trump’s advisers would seem to lean towards streamlining the FDA process rather than imposing price controls but it’s difficult to be certain.