Drug Safety

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 497–503 | Cite as

Evaluation of Pre-marketing Factors to Predict Post-marketing Boxed Warnings and Safety Withdrawals

  • Andreas Schick
  • Kathleen L. Miller
  • Michael Lanthier
  • Gerald Dal Pan
  • Clark Nardinelli
Original Research Article



An important goal in drug regulation is understanding serious safety issues with new drugs as soon as possible. Achieving this goal requires us to understand whether information provided during the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug review can predict serious safety issues that are usually identified after the product is approved. However, research on this topic remains understudied. In this paper, we examine whether any pre-marketing drug characteristics are associated with serious post-marketing safety actions.


We study this question using an internal FDA database containing every new small molecule drug submitted to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) on or after November 21, 1997, and approved and commercially launched before December 31, 2009. Serious post-marketing safety actions include whether these drugs ever experienced either a post-marketing boxed warning or a withdrawal from the market due to safety concerns. A random effects logistic regression model was used to test whether any pre-marketing characteristics were associated with either post-marketing safety action.


A total of 219 new molecular entities were analyzed. Among these drugs, 11 experienced a safety withdrawal and 30 received boxed warnings by July 31, 2016. Contrary to prevailing hypotheses, we find that neither clinical trial sample sizes nor review time windows are associated with the addition of a post-marketing boxed warning or safety withdrawal. However, we do find that new drugs approved with either a boxed warning or priority review are more likely to experience post-marketing boxed warnings. Furthermore, drugs approved with boxed warnings tend to receive post-marketing boxed warnings resulting from new safety information that are unrelated to the original warning. Drugs approved with a boxed warning are 3.88 times more likely to receive a post-marketing boxed warning, while drugs approved with a priority review are 3.51 times more likely to receive a post-marketing boxed warning.


Although drugs approved with a boxed warning or priority review are more likely to experience serious post-marketing safety events, other information provided during the FDA drug review that is easy to quantify is generally not associated with post-marketing safety events. It appears that these post-marketing events are not discernible during a pre-marketing review and therefore might not be avoidable using current review data.

Supplementary material

40264_2017_526_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 36 kb)
40264_2017_526_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 22 kb)
40264_2017_526_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (82 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Program and Strategic Analysis, Center for Drug Evaluation and ResearchU.S. Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA
  2. 2.Office of Planning, Office of the CommissionerU.S. Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA
  3. 3.Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Center for Drug Evaluation and ResearchU.S. Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA

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