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Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

  • McClellan notes that the FDA under a Biden administration could continue working with "many hospitals that are implementing new ways of purchasing drugs to have more reliable supply and avoiding those big price jumps for important generic drugs."

His bottom line: The former commissioner adds that the COVID-19 pandemic offers an in-the-moment opportunity for officials to reform America's health care system.

  • "I think there's some real opportunities to leverage the challenges that we've seen in health care affordability and, I'd add to that, access during the pandemic as we head out of it and not go back to the system that we had before. That includes uncoordinated and often high drug prices."

Watch the event.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Tackling mental health via app

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A tech startup is helping providers monitor their patients' moods and mental health status through a remote app.

Why it matters: Mental health is an unaddressed crisis in the U.S., and it's only gotten worse during COVID-19. NeuroFlow can help users track their own mental health while making it easier for health care professionals to identify when their patients are in crisis.

37 mins ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arms length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top Pentagon officials contradict Biden on Afghanistan advice

Photo: Carolone Brehman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Top military leaders confirmed in a Senate hearing Tuesday they recommended earlier this year that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and that they believed withdrawing those forces would lead to the collapse of the Afghan military.

Why it matters: Biden denied last month that his top military advisers wanted troops to remain in Afghanistan, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "No one said that to me that I can recall."