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How The FDA Are Accelerating The Drug Development Process

35 day(s) ago

In the best interests of everyone, not just those suffering from a serious disease, when drugs are made available at a faster rate, everybody benefits, from patients to healthcare providers. Prior to a drug receiving approval, however, it must go through a detailed FDA review process, and naturally, this can time.With this in mind, the Food and Drug Administration have developed four distinct and highly effective approaches to help facilitate the rapid availability of drugs:

  1. Priority review
  2. Breakthrough therapy
  3. Accelerated approval
  4. Fast track

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

Priority review

This designation means that the FDA will aim to act on an application for approval within 6 months, as opposed to the previous goal of 10 months. When a drug is given a priority review, attention and resources are directed to the evaluation of applications for drugs that – if they are given approval – would significantly improve the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of serious conditions in comparison to other, standard applications.

Breakthrough therapy

Designed to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition, and which initial clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate a substantial improvement over other therapies currently available, breakthrough therapy speeds up their availability. While determining whether the improvement is significantly better may be a matter of judgement, generally speaking, the preliminary clinical evidence should demonstrate a clear advantage over existing therapies.

Accelerated approval

Often, when studying a new drug, it can take many years to discover whether it has a real effect on a patient’s survival, feelings or functions, and when one is determined to have a positive therapeutic effect according to the context of the disease it is being used to treat, it’s described as being of ‘clinical benefit’. In 1992, with this in mind, the FDA implemented the Accelerated Approval regulations, designed to allow drugs used to treat serious conditions in the absence of any other, to be approved based on a surrogate endpoint; ultimately speeding up their approval.

Fast track

This process is designed to facilitate and expedite the development and review of drugs for the treatment of serious conditions, and which fill a medical need that is currently not being met. Its main purpose is to get important, potentially lifesaving drugs to patients in need, quicker, and the fast-track process addresses a wide range of conditions deemed as serious.

If the drug in question will have a positive impact upon a patient suffering from a serious condition, such as by improving their chances of survival, day-to-day functioning, or is based upon the premise that if left untreated, the condition will progress to a more serious one, then the fast-track process will be applicable, and its design and review can be sped up.

The FDA currently have their hands full with the ongoing pandemic and the growing need for a vaccine, and are exploring ways of exercising regulatory agility in new, innovative – but most importantly – safe ways.

Agile Scientific is a life sciences organization that brings decades of industry knowledge, expertise, processes, best practices, and systems to companies. Agile Scientific’s clinical services function to accelerate all facets of drug development, ensure compliance at a global level and optimize pipeline value / ROI. Agile Scientific Group LLC is fortunate to partner with smaller virtual organizations and Fortune 500 Life Sciences companies alike. We have extensive experience providing focused, pragmatic clinical solutions to our sponsor Life Science organizations and CRO’s across all areas of Drug Safety, Regulatory Affairs, HEOR / Pharmacoepidemiology, Quality Assurance.


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