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Prescription bottle caps. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

One of the Trump administration’s most concrete efforts to lower drug prices is an approach that’s been around for decades: approving more generic drugs. And it’s moving fast.

By the numbers: FDA approved 781 generic drugs in fiscal 2018. That’s 90% more than in 2014, when Congress provided new authorities designed to speed the approval process, according to a PwC report.

Between the lines: Some generics are more important than others.

  • The approval of a generic EpiPen this past summer was seen as an especially big deal. Generic versions of complex products (like the EpiPen) are harder to produce, and the FDA has said it’s especially invested in helping those products get to the market.

Yes, but: The first generic competitor to a brand-name product often isn’t the one that brings prices way down. Generics can still make a lot of money by being just slightly cheaper than the product they’re copying, so the steepest discounts often don’t appear until multiple generics hit the market.

What’s next: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is trying to standardize key parts of the review process in the U.S. and Europe, so that generics could more easily seek approval in both regulatory systems.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

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