The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's initiatives can have a big impact but may take time, according to a healthcare consultant at the Oppenheimer & Co. healthcare conference in New York City on Tuesday, March 20.

Gillian Woollett, senior vice president at Inovalon Holdings Inc.'s (INOV) - Get Report healthcare consulting business Avalere Health, gave the keynote presentation at the event.

In one of her slides, Woollett noted that change at the agency can be slow and staffing is a "recurrent problem," pointing out that it takes a long time to fill a position.

The FDA in January released its 2018 strategy policy roadmap, which highlights four priority areas that the agency said will be the focus of additional policy activity this year.

Among the priorities is reducing the burden of addiction crises, which includes addressing the misuse and abuse of opioid drugs. 

Other priority areas include leveraging innovation and competition to improve healthcare and expand access, empowering consumers to make better decisions and bolstering the FDA's scientific workforce and its tools for risk management.

"Today's FDA is pro-active, with visible advocacy for competition, alongside a public health message that includes access and price," according to Woollett's presentation.