David Ridley headshot

David Ridley

In 2006, David Ridley and two Duke colleagues – Henry Grabowski and Jeff Moe – proposed the Food and Drug Administration create vouchers to help speed up reviews for medications to treat rare and neglected diseases that particularly affect the developing world.

A year later, Congress created the Priority Review Voucher, which Ridley, faculty director for Health Sector Management in the Fuqua School of Business, said at the time “could save a lot of lives.”

Ridley helped to create federal law not once, but twice. In a 2017 research paper, he and Moe – along with Nick Hamon – proposed a voucher system to incentivize agrochemical companies to develop new insecticides to fight selected vector-borne diseases such as Dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika. In 2022, Congress created the Vector Expedited Review Voucher (VERV), which was signed by President Joe Biden.

“It’s about reducing inefficiency in the regulatory process and using the gains to fix a market failure in product development to benefit society as a whole,” Ridley said at the time.

Ridley has spent a big part of his career focusing on creating and studying tools that improve health through innovation. He has authored more than 40 papers on topics ranging from whether Medicare reimbursement drives up drug launch prices, to the role of government reimbursement in drug shortages. His research has appeared in economics, medical and scientific journals.

More recently, Ridley has been focusing his research on the FDA’s inspections of overseas drug manufacturing companies, in a paper coauthored with Duke colleague Emily Cuddy. Media sought his expertise following numerous recalls involving over-the-counter eyedrops manufactured overseas.

“The generic drug market is intensely competitive,” he said in 2023, “so there is an incentive to cut costs by cutting quality, especially if no one is watching.”