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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.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

4 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.