According to the new FDA White Paper on PDUFA, more and more companies are seeking early advice from agency. FDA’s research has shown that this increased communication results in a more informed and efficient drug development process for industry sponsors. Since 1999, requests for meetings to discuss products stalled in development have increased more than 200 percent. Requests for consultations to review clinical milestones and next steps in the development process are up more than 60 percent. In the past two years, the number of industry-requested meetings scheduled between FDA and industry sponsors has almost doubled, from 1642 meetings in 2002 to 2132 meetings in 2004. With more frequent FDA guidance and consultation, the quality of new product applications has improved, and fewer review cycles are needed. Before PDUFA, an average of two review cycles was needed to gain FDA approval for an NDA. In 2004, thus far the majority of NDAs have been approved after just over one review cycle.
Those who think the FDA should view the pharmaceutical industry as the enemy misunderstand (and at great peril) a crucial 21st century regulatory paradigm — collaboration advances the public health. As James Thurber said, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”