Aug. 27, 2007 | Vol. 6 No. 168
PDUFA Provisions Could Harm FDA and Industry, Expert Say
Some of the provisions in the FDA Revitalization Act, S. 1082 and H.R. 2900, would be ineffective, could cripple the FDA and would put unnecessary burdens on pharmaceutical companies, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest President Peter Pitts said at the Third Annual FDA Regulatory and Compliance Symposium at Harvard University. â€œPolitical battles are trumping public health,â€ he added.
The most important part of the bill is a provision funding the Reagan-Udall Institute and the agencyâ€™s Critical Path Initiative, according to Pitts. â€œThis is the single most important advance and change in FDA legislation, possibly ever,â€ he said. â€œIt really sets the FDA on the path to a 21st century perspective in terms of both protecting the public health and advancing the public health.â€
The FDAâ€™s recent label change for Coumadin (warfarin) to add information about genetic tests was â€œsuch an important advance,â€ Pitts said, adding that the agency should continue doing more with the Critical Path Initiative (DID, Aug. 17).
However, Pitts said some provisions in the legislation will be ineffective and could harm the FDA. He criticized a provision that would ban members with more than $50,000 in financial conflicts of interest from voting on advisory committees. The FDA recently issued a draft guidance of a proposed rule that would do the same thing (DID, March 22).
â€œAll this will succeed in doing is allow the agency to recruit the second best and the almost brightest for advisory committees, and that is not acceptable,â€ Pitts said. He added that $50,000 is an arbitrary limit.
Pitts also criticized the billâ€™s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) requirements. He noted that early drafts of the bill contained language that would have made it mandatory for each new drug application to contain an REMS. â€œThatâ€™s like saying every new product is equally risky,â€ Pitts said.
Giving the FDA the authority to require an REMS as part of a new drug application could encourage the agency to call for them more, even when they are unnecessary, he said.
However, the enhanced focus on safety and postmarketing surveillance is the industryâ€™s fault for not living up to its commitments to conduct postmarketing studies, Pitts said. â€œNow they are reaping what they sowed,â€ he added. Companies should use the opportunity to conduct postmarketing studies for public health purposes, he said.
Pitts also criticized the provisions in the bill that would add a user fee for a voluntary review of direct-to-consumer advertisements. The FDAâ€™s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications has no predictability and will send companies warning letters even if they incorporated all of the agencyâ€™s suggestions in their advertisements, according to Pitts. â€œIf the FDA wants to have an impact in quality and safety and appropriateness, they canâ€™t change their minds after the fact, fee or no fee.â€ â€” Emily Ethridge