Post-Approval Safety Issues with Innovative Drugs: A European Cohort Study
At time of approval, knowledge of the full benefit risk of any drug is limited, in particular with regards to safety. Post-approval surveillance of potential drug safety concerns is recognized as an important task of regulatory agencies. For innovative, often first-in-class drugs, safety knowledge at time of approval is often even less extensive and these may require tighter scrutiny post approval.
We evaluated whether more post-approval serious safety issues were identified for drugs with a higher level of innovation.
A cohort study was performed that included all new active substances approved under the European Centralized Procedure and for which serious safety issues were identified post-approval from 1 January 1999 to 1 January 2012. Serious safety issues were defined as issues requiring a Direct Healthcare Professional Communication to alert individual healthcare professionals of a new serious safety issue, or a safety-related drug withdrawal. Data were retrieved from publicly available websites of the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board and the European Medicines Agency. The level of innovation was scored using a validated algorithm, grading drugs as important (A), moderate (B) or modest (C) innovations or as pharmacological or technological (pharm/tech) innovations. The data were analyzed using appropriate descriptive statistics and Kaplan–Meier analysis, with a Mantel–Cox log-rank test, and Cox-regression models correcting for follow-up duration, to identify a possible trend in serious safety issues with an increasing level of innovation.
In Europe, 279 new drugs were approved between 1999 and 2011. Fifty-nine (21 %) were graded as important, 63 (23 %) moderate, or 34 (12 %) modest innovations and 123 (44 %) as non-innovative (pharm/tech), while 15 (25 %), 13 (21 %), 8 (24 %) and 17 (14 %) had post-approval safety issues, respectively (p = 0.06, linear-by-linear test). Five drugs were withdrawn from the market. The Kaplan–Meier-derived probability for having a first serious safety issue was statistically significant, log-rank (Mantel–Cox) p = 0.036. In the final adjusted Cox proportional hazard model there was no statistically significant difference in occurrence of a first serious safety issue for important, moderate and modest innovations versus non-innovative drugs; hazard ratios 1.76 (95 % CI 0.82–3.77), 1.61 (95 % CI 0.76–3.41)], and 1.25 (95 % CI 0.51–3.06), respectively.
A higher level of innovation was not clearly related to an increased risk of serious safety issues identified after approval.
- 24.Regnier S. What is the value of ‘me-too’ drugs? Health Care Manage Sci (Epub 26 Feb 2013).Google Scholar
- 25.Hollis A. Me-too drugs: is there a problem? 2004. http://www.who.int/intellectualproperty/topics/ip/Me-tooDrugs_Hollis1.pdf (Accessed 25 June 2013).