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What We're Reading: Acting FDA Commissioner Named; Generic Valsartan Approved; UnitedHealthcare Rebate Program


National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless, MD, will replace Scott Gottlieb, MD, as acting FDA commissioner; the FDA has approved a generic valsartan amidst more recalls; and UnitedHealthcare will require employer clients to pass rebates directly to patients.

Ned Sharpless Named Acting FDA Commissioner

As the FDA prepares for the departure of Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, the agency has named National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Ned Sharpless, MD, as acting commissioner. Sharpless is also said to be in the running for the role of the permanent commissioner, as is Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health at HHS, reported The Wall Street Journal. Douglas Lowry, MD, NCI’s deputy director, will be replacing Sharpless as acting director of the cancer institute.

FDA Approves Generic Valsartan

Amidst more recalls for the blood pressure drug, the FDA has approved a new generic of valsartan (Diovan). According to the agency, it prioritized the review to help relieve shortages caused by the multiple recalls. The agency said it will continue to prioritize the review of angiotensin II receptor blocker applications to help mitigate the shortage. The new generic comes from Alkem Laboratories Limited.

UnitedHealthcare Expands Rebate Program

UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday that it will expand its drug rebate program that passes rebates from drug makers directly to patients. The insurer said the plan would take effect next year and would be required for all new employer clients, according to The New York Times. Existing clients would be allowed to continue under the current system, but they would be encouraged to participate in the new model when their contracts expire.

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