How often are safety concerns raised about a drug after it’s been approved by the FDA?.
Nicholas Downing, MD, of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues have found that for drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, nearly 1 in 3 had a postmarket safety event.
The team defines postmarket safety events as those that lead to either withdrawal from the market due to safety concerns, a boxed warning or FDA issuance of a safety communication.
They found that of 222 novel therapeutics the FDA approved during this time period, three were withdrawn, 61 received boxed warnings and 59 elicited safety communications.
Are characteristics of novel therapeutics known at the time of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval associated with postmarket safety events, including withdrawal, boxed warnings, and safety communications?
Among 222 novel therapeutics approved by the FDA from 2001 through 2010, 71 (32.0%) were affected by a postmarket safety event. Postmarket safety events were more frequent among biologics, therapeutics indicated for the treatment of psychiatric disease, those receiving accelerated approval, and those with near–regulatory deadline approval.
Postmarket safety events are common after FDA approval, highlighting the importance of continuous monitoring of the safety of novel therapeutics throughout their life cycle.
2017 Study Abstract
Postmarket safety events of novel pharmaceuticals and biologics occur when new safety risks are identified after initial regulatory approval of these therapeutics. These safety events can change how novel therapeutics are used in clinical practice and inform patient and clinician decision making.
To characterize the frequency of postmarket safety events among novel therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and to examine whether any novel therapeutic characteristics known at the time of FDA approval were associated with increased risk.
Design and Setting
Cohort study of all novel therapeutics approved by the FDA between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2010, followed up through February 28, 2017.
Novel therapeutic characteristics known at the time of FDA approval, including drug class, therapeutic area, priority review, accelerated approval, orphan status, near–regulatory deadline approval, and regulatory review time.
Main Outcomes and Measures
A composite of
- withdrawals due to safety concerns,
- FDA issuance of incremental boxed warnings added in the postmarket period,
- and FDA issuance of safety communications.
From 2001 through 2010, the FDA approved 222 novel therapeutics (183 pharmaceuticals and 39 biologics). There were 123 new postmarket safety events (3 withdrawals, 61 boxed warnings, and 59 safety communications) during a median follow-up period of 11.7 years (interquartile range [IQR], 8.7-13.8 years), affecting 71 (32.0%) of the novel therapeutics. The median time from approval to first postmarket safety event was 4.2 years (IQR, 2.5-6.0 years), and the proportion of novel therapeutics affected by a postmarket safety event at 10 years was 30.8% (95% CI, 25.1%-37.5%). In multivariable analysis, postmarket safety events were statistically significantly more frequent among biologics (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.93; 95% CI, 1.06-3.52; P = .03), therapeutics indicated for the treatment of psychiatric disease (IRR = 3.78; 95% CI, 1.77-8.06; P < .001), those receiving accelerated approval (IRR = 2.20; 95% CI, 1.15-4.21; P = .02), and those with near–regulatory deadline approval (IRR = 1.90; 95% CI, 1.19-3.05; P = .008); events were statistically significantly less frequent among those with regulatory review times less than 200 days (IRR = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.24-0.87; P = .02).
Conclusions and Relevance
Among 222 novel therapeutics approved by the FDA from 2001 through 2010, 32% were affected by a postmarket safety event. Biologics, psychiatric therapeutics, and accelerated and near–regulatory deadline approval were statistically significantly associated with higher rates of events, highlighting the need for continuous monitoring of the safety of novel therapeutics throughout their life cycle.