Trump, Clinton Campaigns Turn to Health Issues

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit

Trump, Clinton Campaigns Turn to Health Issues

Janice Lloyd

In the final stretch of the campaign before the 2016 presidential election, both candidates are devoting some time talking to crowds about important health issues left largely unaddressed during the divisive debates.

A strong majority of Americans (80%) say it is important for the next President and the next Congress to assign a high priority to putting health research and innovation to work to assure continued medical progress, according to a survey commissioned by Research!America. A majority of respondents say candidates have done a poor job relating to the health concerns and expectations of Americans. Here are two big health issues recently addressed by the presidential candidates:

Cut red tape at the FDA. In an Oct. 22 speech in Gettysburg, Pa., Donald Trump pledged to get drugs to market faster. “There are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval. And we specially want to speed the approval of life saving medications. I mean, they're looking at drugs that are looking very good and you have terminal patients that, it's over. These people, they're dying. They want to get the drug. They won't be living much longer. And we study it for years and years. At some point, they have to do what they have to do. They have to do it properly. But we have 4,000 different drugs and products waiting in line for approval and we can't get them approved. We're going to speed up that process very significantly.”

That’s a bit of a Trump mashup on the numbers. Actually, according to Kaiser Health News, the FDA had 4,036 generic drug applications awaiting approval in July, and the median time it takes for the FDA to approve a generic is now 47 months, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a trade group. The FDA has approved more generics in the past few years, but a flood of applications has added to the problem.

By comparison, the European Medicines Agency, Europe's version of the FDA, has just 24 generics awaiting approval. The EMA along with the European Commission, are approving generics and brand-name drugs in about a year.

A strong majority of Americans (81%) agree that medicines available today have improved their quality of life and even more (91%) say it is important to develop better medicines for conditions we currently treat, according to the survey commissioned by Research!America.

Protect our children’s mental health. Yesterday in Winston-Salem, N.C., Hillary Clinton spoke out against bullying. The backbone of the plan, dubbed "Better than Bullying," calls for a $500 million funding commitment for states that develop comprehensive laws to reduce bullying in schools. The money will go toward hiring support staff such as guidance counselors, school psychologists and others who can help facilitate healthy relationships between children of all age groups. The money will also help bolster suicide prevention programs in high schools because studies show bullying can be a major factor in teen suicides.

At other times, Clinton has talked about how her mother helped make her strong by getting her to stand up to a bully when she was young.

Her comments this week further explain her comprehensive mental health policy. She announced it this summer, saying she would convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as President. Her goal is that within her time in office, “Americans will no longer separate mental health from physical health when it comes to access to care or quality of treatment. The next generation must grow up knowing that mental health is a key component of overall health and there is no shame, stigma, or barriers to seeking out care.”

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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

Source: A Research!America and poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.