FDA approves only 17 new drugs last year

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The Food and Drug Administration last year approved only 17 new prescription drugs, the lowest number of new drug approvals in a decade, according to a new study.

Since the September 2004 market withdrawal of Vioxx, FDA has approved 37 new medications, compared with an average of 28 annually in the years prior to the withdrawal. This information appeared in a study released this week by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. The lack of new medications has led to strong generic competition for older treatments, the director of the Tufts Center said.

But the number of new drug approvals is expected to rise significantly by 2010. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are expected to seek approval for about 2,000 compounds that are currently in early stage clinical trials.