Acceleration of drug approval process a dangerous move

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  • Reactions 1111 - 22 Jul 2006

    Acceleration of drug approvalprocess a dangerous move

    Allowing terminally ill cancer patients access to drugsthat have only completed phase I trials is a "potentiallydisastrous" decision, according to the New Scientist.

    The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbiarecently ruled that such patients have a constitutionalright to treatments that have not been approved by theFDA, but have completed phase I clinical trials. Thisdecision was the result of a suit brought by the AbigailAlliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs. Inaddition, a bill was introduced into the Senate lastNovember that aims to accelerate the approval system.

    These measures could undermine the drug evaluationprocess, and lead to an abundance of ineffective andpossibly unsafe treatments on the market. The basis forthe Court of Appeals decision was that the regulatoryprocess interferes with efforts to save a terminally illpatients life. However, when combined withchemotherapy, most new drugs only extend a patientslife by a few months at best. Despite this, targeted drugsare perceived as a revolutionary treatment for cancer.

    The New Scientist states that phase II and III trials arenecessary for drugs to be proven beneficial, and toobtain information on their effectiveness, safety andtoxicity. Without this process, "cancer patients willincreasingly fall prey to exaggerated claims for varioushalf-baked drugs".Moss RW. No way to save a life. New Scientist 190: 21, No. 2554, 3 Jun2006 801002894

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    Reactions 22 Jul 2006 No. 11110114-9954/10/1111-0001/$14.95 Adis 2010 Springer International Publishing AG. All rights reserved