The Prescription Drug User Fee Act: Much More Than User Fees

Med Care. 2022 Apr 1;60(4):287-293. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001692.


Background: The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) is due for reauthorization in 2022. Beyond creating the user fee program which now generates a majority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Human Drugs Program budget, PDUFA has made numerous additional changes to FDA policy during its 29-year history. FDA's budgetary dependence on user fees may advantage the industry in negotiating favorable policy changes through PDUFA.

Methods: The full texts of all prior PDUFA reauthorization bills and all submitted public comments and meeting minutes for the 2022 reauthorization were reviewed. Provisions affecting FDA regulatory authority and processes were identified.

Findings: PDUFA legislation has instituted a broad range of changes to FDA policy, including evidentiary standards for drug approval, accelerated pathways for approval, industry involvement in FDA decision-making, rules regarding industry information dissemination to providers, and market entry of generic drugs. Negotiations over the 2022 reauthorization suggest that industry priorities include increased application of real-world evidence, regulatory certainty, and increased communication between FDA and industry during the drug application process.

Conclusions: The need for PDUFA reauthorization every 5 years has created a recurring legislative vehicle through which far-ranging changes to FDA have been enacted, reshaping the agency's interactions and relationship with the regulated industry. The majority of policy changes enacted through PDUFA legislation have favored industry through decreasing regulatory standards, shortening approval times, and increasing industry involvement in FDA decision-making. FDA's budgetary dependence on the industry, the urgency of each PDUFA reauthorization's passage to maintain uninterrupted funding, and the industry's required participation in PDUFA negotiations may advantage the industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Industry
  • Drugs, Generic
  • Humans
  • Prescription Drugs*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Drugs, Generic
  • Prescription Drugs