FDA to release more clinical trial information for newly approved drugs
The Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to make it easier for doctors, patients and researchers to get access to clinical trial data amassed during the process of approving new drugs, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday.
Gottlieb announced the actions just before a speech on FDA transparency at a Washington forum. The meeting, attended by researchers and academics, focused on 18 recommendations for making the agency's decision-making less opaque. The suggestions were part of a report called Blueprint for Transparency.
The FDA has long said it is sharply limited in what information it can release because it often is dealing with drug companies' proprietary material.
Gottlieb, in his statement and in remarks to the forum, said the agency is starting a pilot program this month to release clinical study reports for recently approved drugs. These summaries, which are generated by drug-company sponsors of the treatments, spell out the methods and results of clinical trials. The data don't include patient-identifiable information.
The pilot is expected to ultimately include nine drugs volunteered by their sponsors for the effort, Gottlieb told Joshua Sharfstein, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health professor, in a question-and-answer session at the forum.
The release of the study reports, which can run hundreds of pages, will allow researchers and others “to do more analysis around our decision-making,” especially on the safety and efficacy of new drugs, Gottlieb said. Some of the information is already released by the agency but in a format that is difficult for lay audiences to use, he said.
The commissioner also said the agency will make it easier to track clinical-research information by adding a study's identifier number from ClinicalTrials.gov to all FDA materials for a specific product. ClinicalTrials.gov is the database of studies maintained by the National Institutes of Health.
On another transparency issue, Gottlieb said the agency is exploring whether there is a “subset” of “complete response letters” that can be released. Such letters to drug companies detail why their drugs were not approved. He said the FDA is looking at possibly releasing information involving safety issues. Critics of the pharmaceutical industry have long complained that the companies don't always give the public accurate and comprehensive explanations of why their products were rejected.