“It’s too early to know if this will work,” said Craig Coopersmith, MD, of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, speaking about the FDA plan to hasten generic drug approvals. “I am, however, highly encouraged that a concerted effort is being put into this. In the best-case scenario, this effort will bring down costs and reduce drug shortages.”

“The potential downside of fast-tracking is that a rush towards approval will result in a less thorough review,” Dr Coopersmith said. “Having said that, the concept of trying to more rapidly get effective drugs to our patients has significant appeal.”

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So far in 2017, there have been 96 full or tentative ANDA approvals announced. But that has not yet translated to fewer drug shortages or lower costs, Dr Coopersmith said.

“Anecdotally, drug shortages are very much the medical equivalent of whack-a-mole,” he said. “As soon as one goes away, another one crops up.”

Michael Rie, MD, of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, is less optimistic that the FDA can curb drug prices.

“I doubt it’s going to do any significant good,” Dr Rie said. “First of all, it’s fine that they want to hasten approvals. But…who will want to come forward to do this on the generic side unless [that person] has some way to know that they will be adequately recompensed? That’s been a major problem with generics.”

Nor is FDA approval of new generics a panacea for prices or drug shortages, argued Dr Rie, who is a member of Physicians Against Drug Shortages.

“We have shortages of life-saving drugs that are approved,” he noted. “The [FDA] announcement is not a bad thing. It’s just irrelevant, in terms of the availability of generic drugs.”


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