Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a record number of generic drugs, but at the same time it’s inspecting a lot fewer of the factories where those drugs are made.

Why it matters: Declining inspections are raising new concerns about their quality and safety, Bloomberg’s Anna Edney reports in the first part of a yearlong investigation.

  • And in addition to a drop in overall inspections, the FDA has in some cases been slow to crack down on the problems it does find, Edney reports.

By the numbers: Generics make up roughly 90% of all U.S. prescriptions.

  • FDA inspections of facilities inside the U.S. fell by 11% from 2017 to 2018 and have been falling since 2011, when the agency began shifting more resources overseas.
  • But international inspections, after rising steadily for years, have also been on the decline since 2016.
  • Companies from India and China alone account for almost half of all new generic drugs, and more than 80% of drugs' active ingredients are made abroad.

Between the lines: The story also includes 2 anecdotes in which FDA inspectors uncovered violations and began work on enforcement letters, but "higher-ups at the FDA … overrode the concerns of those on the ground."

The other side: "It’s not the number of inspections we do, it's whether we're targeting effectively," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Bloomberg.

  • Janet Woodcock, who leads the agency’s center for drug reviews, also said the agency’s oversight is "better than it's ever been."

Go deeper: Why the spotlight on generic drug prices is getting brighter

Go deeper

U.S. sanctions Chinese officials over Uighur human rights abuses

Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

The Treasury Department announced Thursday that the U.S. has sanctioned four Chinese Communist Party officials and the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: The sanctions designations, pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Act passed by Congress in 2016, mark a significant escalation in the Trump administration's response to the Chinese government's detainment of over 1 million Uighurs in internment camps.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 12,118,667 — Total deaths: 551,271 — Total recoveries — 6,649,930Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 3,081,383 — Total deaths: 132,570 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,431,666Map.
  3. Public health: Cases rise in 33 statesFlorida reports highest single-day coronavirus death toll since pandemic began.
  4. Science: World Health Organization acknowledges airborne transmission of coronavirus.
  5. Travel: Young adults are most likely to have moved due to coronavirus.
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China's extraterritorial threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

All multinational companies and executives need to worry about breaking U.S. law, no matter where they're based or doing business. Now, they need to worry about Chinese law, too.

Why it matters: The projection of U.S. norms and laws around the world has been an integral (and much resented) part of America's "soft power" since 1945. As China positions itself to replace the USA as global hegemon, expect it to become increasingly assertive along similar lines.