President Trump delivered his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. Although his speech touched upon several hot topics, including echoing his call to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump used the address to emphasize his call for changes to the FDA’s drug approval process.
The president cited the case of Megan Crowley, a rare disease survivor and guest at the address, who was diagnosed with Pompe Disease at 15 months old.
“On receiving the news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child,” Trump said. “He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.”
He added, “But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.”
Throughout his campaign, Trump advocated for cutting FDA regulations and speeding up drug approvals. Following his election win, the president signed an executive order directing federal agencies, including the FDA, to eliminate 2 regulations for every new regulation issued. The action is a part of Trump’s efforts to accelerate drug approvals.
The president also met with top pharmaceutical executives
in February to discuss his plans for the drug industry. The meeting addressed Trump’s goals to bring down prescription drug costs and slash FDA regulations to spur speedier drug development and approvals. However, opponents of deregulation argue that reducing oversight of drugs will put consumers at risk.
Trump’s remarks at the address indicate that he’s serious about a FDA overhaul, “If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.”
As with his replacement plan for the ACA, Trump has yet to give exact details on his plans how to expedite the FDA approval process. Top candidates to head the FDA mentioned include Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA deputy commissioner, and Jim O’Neill, a former Health and Human Services official and an associate of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
During the address, Trump called for bipartisan action on health care reform, and noted several Republican themes on health care reform in recent months, including increased use of health savings accounts.