Food and Drug Administration:

Effect of User Fees on Drug Approval Times, Withdrawals, and Other Agency Activities

GAO-02-958: Published: Sep 17, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 2002.

Additional Materials:


Janet Heinrich
(202) 512-7250


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Ten years ago, Congress passed the Prescription Drug User Fee Act to speed up the review process used to ensure that new drugs and biological products are safe and effective. GAO found that the act has provided the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the funding needed to hire more drug reviewers, which has led to faster availability of new drugs to the United States. Approval times have shortened both for priority drugs--those that FDA expects to offer significant therapeutic benefits beyond drugs already on the market--and standard drugs, which are not thought to have significant therapeutic benefits beyond available drugs. Although the act has increased the funds available for FDA's drug and biological reviews, funds for other activities, such as the regulation of foods and medical devices, have shrunk as a share of FDA's overall budget. The 1997 amendments to the act, which shortened review schedules and set new performance goals to reduce overall drug development time, have increased reviewer workload at FDA. GAO found that some drug reviewers may have forgone training and professional development opportunities to ensure that the new goals were met. FDA officials said that the agency continues to experience high turnover rates among these employees. GAO found that a higher percentage of drugs has been withdrawn from the market for safety reasons since the act was enacted but the that the size of the increase in withdrawal rates differs depending on the period examined. The higher rate of drug withdrawals suggests that FDA needs to strengthen its postmarket surveillance efforts. FDA plans to spend $71 million in user fees during the next 5 years to improve the monitoring of new drugs on the market and to track any harmful effects of these products.

Aug 13, 2018

Aug 10, 2018

Jul 31, 2018

Jul 26, 2018

Jul 18, 2018

Jul 17, 2018

Jul 11, 2018

Jul 2, 2018

Jun 28, 2018

Jun 27, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here