Hot Topics: Many Drugs Face Safety Issues After FDA Approval

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Postmarket Safety Events Among Novel Therapeutics Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration Between 2001 and 2010

Downing NS, Shah ND, Aminawung JA, et al. Postmarket safety events among novel therapeutics approved by the US food and drug administration between 2001 and 2010. JAMA. 2017;317(18):1854-1863. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.5150.

Importance  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.

Objectives  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.

Exposures  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 (1) withdrawals due to safety concerns, (2) FDA issuance of incremental boxed warnings added in the postmarket period, and (3) FDA issuance of safety communications.

Results  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.