FDA Commissioner Talks AI and Misinformation

FDA Commissioner Talks AI and Misinformation


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 medication, 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 depends upon the way it’s used, Califf mentioned. “It could possibly be used for great acquire or it could possibly be used for great hurt.” 

Califf is “very excited” concerning the upside. AI could result in new illness therapies or discover info related to a selected affected person from information bases “which can be simply very laborious for us” as people to entry and think about.


Getting too enthusiastic about AI’s potential advantages just isn’t a superb factor both as a result of “you might not see the draw back,” mentioned Califf. He’s accustomed to the know-how as a former chief of well being technique and coverage for Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s dad or mum 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 demise.” 

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 fitting reply,” Califf mentioned. 



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

Addressing Drug Shortages

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

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 medicine and a generic drug trade that accounts for about 90% of prescriptions. The income made by the innovator trade get plenty of consideration, he mentioned, whereas the shortage of revenue as an incentive for generic producers doesn’t.

“This has brought about a giant drawback. Numerous generic medicine 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 “great improve in prescribing” due to digital prescribing, Califf mentioned.

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

“We want that we may repair all these items,” Califf mentioned. “However we do not make the medication and we won’t inform somebody they have to make medicines.”

Enthusiasm on the Helm

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

“I am most excited concerning the probability to alter 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 necessary. We acquired to make it work higher.”

Though making modifications will contain plenty of work, Califf mentioned, “It is an thrilling time.”


See the total interview with Califf on Medscape right here.

Extra Data From WebMD

Synthetic Intelligence (AI) in Well being Care

What Does the FDA Do?

Off-Label Drug Use: What You Have to Know

Why Are Medication Recalled?