PRESS RELEASE: FDA Announces Initiative to Bolster Generic Drug Program

FDA Announces Initiative to Bolster Generic Drug Program

Effort will streamline generic drug approval process; provide more options for consumers, health professionals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today outlined a program aimed at increasing the number and variety of generic drug products available to consumers and health care providers. Generic drugs generally cost less than their brand-name counterparts and competition among generics has been a key factor in lowering drug prices. The Generic Initiative for Value and Efficiency, or GIVE, will help the FDA modernize and streamline its generic drug approval process.

The agency approved or tentatively approved a record of 682 generic drugs products in fiscal year 2007, over 30 percent more than the previous year.

“To keep pace with the increasing number of generic drug applications, FDA will implement some changes to the generic drug approval process,” said Gary Buehler, director of FDA’s Office of Generic Drugs. “The GIVE plan outlines ways to maximize the use of our resources so that FDA can review and approve even more high quality generic drugs during the upcoming fiscal year than it did in 2007.”

As part of the GIVE efforts, FDA is revising the review order for certain drug applications. For example, first generic products, for which there are no blocking patents or exclusivity protections on the reference listed drug, are identified at the time of submission for expedited review. This will mean that these products, for which there are currently no generic products on the market, may reach the consumer much faster.

FDA now has about 215 full-time staff working on the review of generic drug applications. Under GIVE, FDA will hire and train new generic drug reviewers and focus on enhanced use of electronic programs for handling drug submissions and internal documents. When possible, resources from other FDA departments will be engaged in the effort. As well, FDA will increase its communications with generic drug manufacturers and provide training on proper application submission to the industry in meetings and Webcasts.

Generic drugs undergo a rigorous scientific review to ensure that they are of high quality, safe, and effective. Generic drug manufacturers must demonstrate that a generic drug has the same dosage form, strength, route of administration, and conditions of use as the approved brand-name product. Generic drug manufacturers also must demonstrate bioequivalence, meaning they show that the drug delivers the same amount of its active ingredient in the same amount of time as the brand-name counterpart. Bioequivalence is a critical requirement for concluding that the original and generic drugs will produce the same therapeutic results.

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