FDA cautious about real-world evidence
A great deal of work will be required to pave the road for the use of real world evidence in regulatory decisions, wrote FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and 14 other FDA staff members in a commentary published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article sets a tone of caution just as the 21st Century Cures Act and PDUFA reauthorization goals commit the agency to create a framework for the use of real-world evidence to make decisions about post-approval studies of drugs and their approval in supplementary indications.
The article describes the definition of real-world evidence as “elusive.” The authors believe it refers to healthcare information "derived from multiple sources outside typical clinical research settings, including electronic health records (EHRs), claims and billing data, product and disease registries, and data gathered through personal devices and health applications.”
It warns that the “allure of analyzing existing data may lead to flawed conclusions," and says this “concern is especially salient in light of the growing proliferation of precision molecular medicine and treatments for rare diseases, many of which are anticipated to undergo review in accelerated approval programs.”
Real-world evidence could play an important role in reviewing such applications, the authors note, which adds to the urgency of developing rigorous methods for collecting and analyzing such information. The authors express optimism about "long-term prospects for the evolution of mature, robust methodologic approaches to the incorporation of real-world evidence into therapeutic development and evaluation," but emphasize that "caution is still needed, and expectations of 'quick wins' resulting from the use of such evidence should be tempered accordingly.