US May Speed Approval of 'Breakthrough' Drugs

Source: Reuters, Anna Yukhananov  (5/9/12)

"Experimental drugs that show a big effect early in development for treating serious or life-threatening diseases would get a faster and cheaper path to U.S. approval under a proposal likely to become law this year."

Reuters, Anna Yukhananov

Experimental drugs that show a big effect early in development for treating serious or life-threatening diseases would get a faster and cheaper path to U.S. approval, under a proposal likely to become law this year.

U.S. drug regulators would be able to label such treatments "breakthrough" therapies, and work with companies to speed up clinical trials, for example by testing the drugs for a shorter time or enrolling fewer patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it supports the proposal, which is included in both versions of an FDA "must-pass" funding bill currently working its way through Congress and set to be passed by the end of the summer.

The plan fits with President Barack Obama's aim to foster innovation as a means of spurring job creation, and may pacify some critics who say the FDA lags European countries in approving new medicines or medical devices.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, head of the FDA's drugs center, has said the FDA needs more flexibility to bypass "business as usual" when it sees unexpected effects, or when a new medicine can greatly help patients.

"What happens when you have a breakthrough drug that shows an effect that's never been seen before?" she told reporters in March, discussing the proposal.

"If we'd done business as usual during the AIDS epidemic, we would have never controlled that epidemic," Woodcock said. . .View Full Article

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