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Regulatory and clinical consequences of negative confirmatory trials of accelerated approval cancer drugs: retrospective observational study
The BMJ  (IF39.89),  Pub Date : 2021-09-09, DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n1959
Bishal Gyawali, Benjamin N Rome, Aaron S Kesselheim

Objectives To investigate the regulatory handling of cancer drugs that were granted accelerated approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but failed to improve the primary endpoint in post-approval trials and to evaluate the extent to which negative post-approval trials changed the recommendations in treatment guidelines. Design Retrospective observational study. Setting FDA and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) reports. Included drugs Cancer drugs that received accelerated approval from the FDA and had negative post-approval trials. Main outcome measures Regulatory outcomes, including withdrawal, conversion to regular approval, and no action. Results 18 indications for 10 cancer drugs that received accelerated approval but failed to improve the primary endpoint in post-approval trials were identified. Of these, 11 (61%) were voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturer and one (bevacizumab for breast cancer) was revoked by the FDA. Of the 11 withdrawals, six occurred in 2021 alone. The remaining six (33%) indications remain on the label. The NCCN guidelines provide a high level of endorsement (category 1 endorsement for one and category 2A endorsement for seven) for accelerated approval drugs that have failed post-approval trials, sometimes even after the approval has been withdrawn or revoked. Conclusion Cancer drug indications that received accelerated approval often remained on formal FDA approved drug labelling and continued to be recommended in clinical guidelines several years after statutorily required post-approval trials showed no improvement in the primary efficacy endpoint. Clinical guidelines should better align with the results of post-approval trials of cancer drugs that received accelerated approval. No additional data available.