FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Axios that while he thinks the orphan drug market is too small to seriously dampen competition, he's open to changes in the law.

Details: Gottlieb's top priority is giving drugmakers an incentive to develop treatments for the rarest of diseases, or diseases that aren't getting much pharma attention.

Where it stands: Right now, part of the definition of an orphan drug is that it's intended for a patient population of less than 200,000 people. One idea would be to lower that number, meaning orphan designation goes to treatments for even rarer conditions.

  • In turn, there could be a "richer incentive" for drug companies to go after orphan approvals.
  • "For a drug that's already on the market, maybe you don't need as much incentive to study a subsequent indication," Gottlieb said. "Maybe we make the designation harder to get."
  • "I see a lot of things not getting studied or not getting into drug labels that should be. I'd like to have that clinical discussion," he added.

Go deeper: Blockbuster drugs are stacking up orphan approvals

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan urged to return absentee ballots to drop boxes

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic attorney general of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes, warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

30 mins ago - Technology

Facebook warns of "perception hacks" undermining trust in democracy

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Facebook warned Tuesday that bad actors are increasingly taking to social media to create the false perception that they’ve pulled off major hacks of electoral systems or have otherwise seriously disrupted elections.

Why it matters: "Perception hacking," as Facebook calls it, can have dire consequences on people's faith in democracy, sowing distrust, division and confusion among the voters it targets.

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.