Scott Gottlieb

The drug pricing debate is stuck in the past

Illustration of falling pills and coins
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There’s a scientific and economic revolution happening in medicine, and the political debate over drug prices isn’t keeping up. Not only are policymakers struggling to agree on solutions, they’re mostly talking about yesterday’s problems.

Why it matters: Medical innovation is already hurtling toward a new era of highly specialized drugs — some are even tailor-made for each individual patient. They may be more effective than anything we’ve seen before, and also more expensive. But the drug-pricing debate is more focused on decades-old parts of the system.

FDA will tighten drug safety rules

In this image, Scott Gottlieb looks ahead with a slightly concerned expression.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to impose tougher safety requirements on the ingredients in prescription drugs, following an investigation by Bloomberg's Anna Edney into safety and quality issues at overseas facilities.

The bottom line: The active ingredients in many pharmaceuticals, especially generics, come from China and India, but the FDA has few inspectors on the ground in those countries. So it requires drugmakers to self-report safety or quality issues.