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June 8, 2011

Balancing Access and Evaluation in the Approval of New Cancer Drugs

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Bioethics, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland (Dr Miller); and Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Joffe).

JAMA. 2011;305(22):2345-2346. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.784

Patients with cancer who lack effective treatment desperately seek novel interventions that might extend their lives. They do not have time to wait for the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA’s) regular approval process, which requires that sponsors demonstrate “substantial evidence of clinical benefit (or efficacy) from adequate and well-controlled investigations.”1 Clinicians, for their part, are eager to offer “rational” treatments targeted at the molecular signatures of disease to their sickest patients.

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