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Dhodapkar M, Zhang AD, Puthumana J, Downing NS, Shah ND, Ross JS. Characteristics of Clinical Studies Used for US Food and Drug Administration Supplemental Indication Approvals of Drugs and Biologics, 2017 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(6):e2113224. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13224
What is the strength of evidence supporting supplemental new indication approvals for drugs and biologics and how does it compare with the evidence that supported their original approval?
In this cross-sectional study of 107 therapeutics approved for 146 supplemental indications by the US Food and Drug Administration between 2017 and 2019, supplemental approvals for oncology drugs were based on fewer pivotal efficacy trials with less rigorous designs than supplemental approvals for other therapeutic areas. Supplemental approvals were based on fewer pivotal trials than their original indication approvals, but their designs were similar.
These findings suggest that there was little difference in the evidence supporting supplemental and original indication approvals, but the number and design of pivotal trials supporting supplemental indication approvals varied according to therapeutic area.
After US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a new drug, sponsors can submit additional clinical data to obtain supplemental approval for use for new indications.
To characterize pivotal trials supporting recent supplemental new indication approvals of drugs and biologics by the FDA and to compare them with pivotal trials that supported these therapeutics’ original indication approvals.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This is a cross-sectional study characterizing pivotal trials supporting supplemental indication approvals by the FDA between 2017 and 2019 and pivotal trials that supported these therapeutics’ original indication approvals. Data analysis was performed from August to October 2020.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Number and design of pivotal trials supporting both supplemental and original indication approvals.
From 2017 to 2019, the FDA approved 146 supplemental indications for 107 therapeutics on the basis of 181 pivotal efficacy trials. The median (interquartile range) number of trials per supplemental indication was 1 (1-1). Most trials used either placebo (77 trials [42.5%; 95% CI, 35.6%-49.8%]) or active comparators (65 trials [35.9%; 95% CI, 29.3%-43.1%]), and most of these multigroup trials were randomized (141 trials [99.3%; 95% CI, 96.0%-100.0%]) and double-blinded (106 trials [74.5%; 95% CI, 66.6%-81.0%]); 80 trials (44.2%; 95 CI, 37.2%-51.5%) used clinical outcomes as the primary efficacy end point. There was no difference between oncology therapies and those approved for other therapeutic areas to have supplemental indication approvals be based on at least 2 pivotal trials (11.5% vs 20.6%; difference, 9.1%; 95% CI, 2.9%-21.0%; P = .10). Similarly, there was no difference in use of randomization (98.3% vs 100.0%; difference, 1.7%; 95% CI, 1.6%-5.0%; P = .43) among multigroup trials, although these trials were less likely to be double-blinded (50.8% vs 92.3%; difference, 41.5%; 95% CI, 27.4%-55.5%; P < .001); overall, these trials were less likely to use either placebo or active comparators (64.9% vs 86.7%; difference, 21.8% 95% CI, 9.8%-33.9%; P < .001) or to use clinical outcomes as their primary efficacy end point (27.5% vs 61.1%; difference, 33.6%; 95% CI, 14.1%-40.9%; P < .001) and were longer (median [interquartile range], 17 [6-48] weeks vs 95 [39-146] weeks). Original approvals were more likely than supplemental indication approvals to be based on at least 2 pivotal trials (44.0% [95% CI, 33.7%-42.6%] vs 15.8% [95% CI, 10.7%-22.5%]; difference, 28.2%; 95% CI, 17.6%-39.6%; P < .001) and less likely to be supported by at least 1 trial of 12 months’ duration (27.6% [95% CI, 17.9%-35.0%] vs 54.8% [95% CI, 46.7%-62.6%]; difference, 27.2%; 95% CI, 14.5%-37.8%; P < .001). Pivotal trial designs were otherwise not significantly different.
Conclusions and Relevance
These findings suggest that the number and design of the pivotal trials supporting supplemental indication approvals by the FDA varied across therapeutic areas, with the strength of evidence for cancer indications weaker than that for other indications. There was little difference in the design characteristics of the pivotal trials supporting supplemental indication and original approvals.
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