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A Medicare official hinted Tuesday that Medicare might test a policy of paying less for drugs that receive so-called accelerated approvals than for drugs that are granted traditional approvals.

The Food and Drug Administration uses accelerated approvals to make promising drugs for serious conditions available to patients sooner. The program is widely considered a success and has worked well for many drugs, including the leukemia drug Gleevec, which the FDA approved in 2001 after a review period of just two-and-a-half months, based on study results that correctly predicted successful clinical outcomes.

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