Across the Atlantic, the European Medicines Agency recommended 81 new prescription products against a 2015 total of 93. Unlike the FDA, the EMA includes generic drugs in its list.
The slowdown suggests the pharmaceuticals industry may be returning to more normal productivity levels after a spike in approvals in 2014 and 2015, when the haul of new drugs reaching the market hit a 19-year high.
Several factors led to the fall in the approval rate in 2016, John Jenkins, the FDA's director of the office of new drugs, told a conference last month.
There was also a decline in drugs being filed for approval and the FDA rejected or delayed more applications in 2016 than in the previous two years.
Reuters reports that most industry executives remain upbeat about the hunt for new medicines, given recent advances in fighting cancer and an improved understanding of the genetic basis of other diseases, which has resulted in full development pipelines at many firms.
But it remains challenging to get new drugs through the approval process and to secure a decent financial return once they are launched, given resistance from healthcare insurers and governments to the rising cost of medical treatment.
According to consultancy Deloitte, returns on research and development investment at the top 12 pharmaceutical companies fell to just 3.7 percent in 2016 from a high of 10.1 percent in 2010.
For the full Reuters story, click here.