Might 31, 2023 – In an unique sit-down interview with WebMD’s John Whyte, MD, FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, shares how synthetic intelligence may rework the way forward for drugs, what the FDA can and can’t do about drug shortages and misinformation, and why it’s an thrilling time on the company. 

“Let’s speak about what everybody’s speaking about: synthetic intelligence, digital instruments, ChatGPT,” mentioned Whyte, WebMD’s chief medical officer.

AI’s potential relies on the way it’s used, Califf mentioned. “It might be used for large acquire or it might be used for large hurt.” 

Califf is “very excited” concerning the upside. AI might result in new illness remedies or discover data related to a specific affected person from data bases “which can be simply very arduous for us” as people to entry and contemplate.


Getting too enthusiastic about AI’s potential advantages will not be an excellent factor both as a result of “you might not see the draw back,” mentioned Califf. He’s accustomed to the expertise as a former chief of well being technique and coverage for Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s father or mother firm. 

Mitigating Misinformation

One other actuality in 2023 is a few widespread well being and medical misinformation. Califf has known as this “a number one reason for preventable loss of life.” 

The FDA is studying extra about how misinformation works and why it spreads rapidly across the web. The company additionally desires to seek out options, “however I haven’t discovered anybody who believes they’ve the precise reply,” Califf mentioned. 



Within the meantime, reacting rapidly when misinformation begins circulating is vital, he mentioned, as is restoring religion in our key establishments as sources of dependable data.

Addressing Drug Shortages

Whyte requested Califf about medicine shortages, utilizing Adderall for instance. 

Many individuals take into consideration the pharmaceutical trade as one factor, Califf mentioned, nevertheless it’s actually two. There may be an innovator trade that develops new medication and a generic drug trade that accounts for about 90% of prescriptions. The income made by the innovator trade get numerous consideration, he mentioned, whereas the shortage of revenue as an incentive for generic producers doesn’t.

“This has induced a giant drawback. A lot of generic medication are in scarcity at any given time as a result of there’s not sufficient revenue.”

Adderall is a particular case as a result of it’s a managed substance and the quantity out there for prescription is managed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. There has additionally been a “large improve in prescribing” due to digital prescribing, Califf mentioned.

Occasional high quality points that pause manufacturing additionally trigger shortages of many medicines. 

“We want that we may repair all this stuff,” Califf mentioned. “However we do not make the drugs and we will not inform somebody they need to make medicines.”

Enthusiasm on the Helm

Regardless of these challenges, Califf stays optimistic. “It is simply superb to see the progress in science and drugs.”

“I am most excited concerning the likelihood to vary public well being,” he mentioned. The FDA is only one participant that should collaborate with the CDC, the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers, and the personal sector. “It is actually vital. We obtained to make it work higher.”

Although making adjustments will contain numerous work, Califf mentioned, “It is an thrilling time.”


See the complete interview with Califf on Medscape right here.

Extra Info From WebMD

Synthetic Intelligence (AI) in Well being Care

What Does the FDA Do?

Off-Label Drug Use: What You Must Know

Why Are Medication Recalled?

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