Jan 2, 2018

FDA chief touts more approvals of generic drugs

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb prepares to testify on Capitol Hill. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has dramatically cut down its backlog of generic drugs waiting for an approval decision — a long-standing but elusive goal with the potential to help lower consumers' drug costs.

What they're saying: "I think the greatest opportunity to have a very palpable impact on people's lives is through trying to create greater access," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The low-hanging fruit was on the generic drug side."

The numbers that matter: In 2012, the FDA had a backlog of more than 2,800 applications seeking the approval of a new generic drug. That's now down to the "low 100s," according to the Post.

Why it matters: Drug pricing is an enormously partisan issue, but just about everyone supports faster approval decisions for generics. And by making that happen, Gottlieb is making good on the conservative pledge to lower prices by bolstering competition.

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Ivanka Trump plans focus on coronavirus recovery for small businesses

Ivanka Trump speaks at yesterday's White House videoconference with bank and credit card executives. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ivanka Trump personally lobbied top bank executives to line up the $1.5 billion in commitments to small business that were announced yesterday at a videoconference among the bank executives and President Trump — stoking competitive juices among the execs to drive up their commitments.

The state of play: Ivanka, who has had workforce development in her portfolio going back to 2017, plans an increasing emphasis on small businesses in the weeks ahead as they navigate the rescue bill’s Payroll Protection Program, sources tell me.

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

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World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health