Susan Wood, a former assistant FDA commissioner and now associate director of health policy at George Washington University, agreed.
"There is no need to speed things up any more. We are already bringing things to market faster than Europe," Wood told NBC News. "That is a bogus issue on speed."
The FDA now has four separate pathways for approving drugs more quickly:
- Fast track
- Breakthrough therapy
- Accelerated approval
- Priority review
It takes an average of 10 months for a new drug to get approved, according to FDA data.
In 2008, only about 40 percent of new drug applications got approved, but the odds grew to 60 percent by 2012, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. That's because the agency is working more closely with drug companies to help them get applications and studies in place that will make it easier to get through the process.
"The fact is, we have spent the last three decades speeding up the drug approval process," said Kessler.
In fact, drugs get approved so quickly now that consumer protection groups are complaining. Groups howled last year when the FDA approved a controversial muscular dystrophy drug over the objections of its own advisers.
"We're going to streamline the FDA. We have a fantastic person that I think I we'll be naming fairly soon. He's going to streamline the FDA and you're going to get your products either approved or not approved but it's going to be a quick process. It's not going to take 15 years," Trump told the drug company CEOs.
The 15-year figure is often cited by the industry as the time it takes to develop a drug from start to finish —not the FDA approval time, which is usually less than a year.
"President Donald Trump's preposterous promise to pharmaceutical company CEOs to slash U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations by 75 to 80 percent would, if fulfilled, fundamentally destroy the ability of the agency to protect patients and consumers from unsafe or ineffective medications and medical devices, hazardous foods and dietary supplements, and dangerous tobacco products, among other things," said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group.
"The end result would be countless preventable deaths, injuries and illnesses across the U.S.," Carome added.
"Trump's horrifying proposal reflects utter ignorance about the FDA's essential role in protecting public health and once again demonstrates his commitment to placing corporate profits above protecting the safety of the American people."
Kessler said the pharmaceutical industry benefits from FDA oversight that keeps a level playing field. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug company lobbying group, agrees.
"The United States leads the world in the introduction of new medicines thanks in part to the human drug review program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," it says on its website.
Having FDA oversight allows companies to say their products will do just what they say they'll do on the label, Kessler said.
"That justifies to some extent drug companies being able to charge what they want to charge," Kessler said.