Effect of safety issues with HIV drugs on the approval process of other drugs in the same class: an analysis of European Public Assessment Reports

Arna H Arnardottir, Flora M Haaijer-Ruskamp, Sabine M J Straus, Pieter A de Graeff, Peter G M Mol
Drug Safety: An International Journal of Medical Toxicology and Drug Experience 2011 November 1, 34 (11): 1101-14

BACKGROUND: Knowledge on the safety of new medicines is limited at the time of market entry. Nearly half of all drugs used to treat HIV registered in the EU required ≥1 Direct Healthcare Professional Communication (DHPC) in the past 10 years for safety issues identified post-approval.

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to evaluate the extent to which regulators and industry have addressed the risk of safety issues for HIV drugs based on prior experience with other drugs in the same class and whether doing so impacts development time of these drugs.

METHODS: HIV drugs receiving ≥1 DHPC in the Netherlands between January 1999 and December 2008 were identified. Each drug with a DHPC ('index' drug) was paired with subsequently approved HIV drug(s) in the same class (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical [ATC] 4th level) ['follow-on' drugs]. Characteristics of safety issues were extracted from the DHPCs of the 'index' drugs. European Public Assessment Reports (EPARs) were reviewed regarding whether the safety issues had been considered during development and approval. Consideration of previously identified safety issues in 'follow-on' drug applications was assessed regarding attention paid to adverse drug reaction (ADR) symptoms in pre-marketing studies, Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) and postmarketing commitments, and whether size of the safety population was in accordance with Regulatory guidelines. 'Index' drugs were also paired with drugs in the same class already on the market ('older' drugs). For 'older' drugs, we identified whether the safety issue led to appropriate changes in the current SmPC (January 2011) compared with the SmPC at the time of marketing authorization. Clinical development time was assessed using time from first patent application to market authorization as proxy, and comparison was made between 'index' and 'follow-on' drugs.

RESULTS: For 9 (43%) of the 21 centrally authorized HIV drugs, 11 serious safety issues that required a DHPC were identified. Two drugs were excluded from our analysis (DHPCs related to contamination/medication error). Six 'index' drugs were paired, each with one to six 'follow-on' drugs. Three concerned drug-drug interactions (DDIs); the other three were intracranial haemorrhage, neuromuscular weakness and severe skin/hepatic reactions. All but one 'follow-on' drug had information in the EPAR on that specific ADR (i.e. attention was paid to the ADR). The DDIs were addressed in pre-marketing studies and/or the SmPC. Two of the other ADRs were addressed by postmarketing surveillance commitments; intracranial haemorrhage was not addressed. Three safety issues for two 'index' drugs could not be paired with a 'follow-on' drug as no drug in the same class was approved after the corresponding DHPCs were issued. Five of the nine safety issues were added to at least one of the current SmPCs for the 'older' drugs already on the market at the time of DHPC issue. Two safety issues were already in the SmPC of the 'older' drugs at time of market approval and two were not introduced into the SmPC of 'older' drugs. Population size to assess short-term safety complied with the guidelines for four 'index', seven 'follow-on' and three 'older' drugs; population size to assess long-term safety complied for one, three and two drugs, respectively. For five drugs, EPARs did not provide adequate information on population size. No statistically significant difference in development time between 'index' and 'follow-on' drugs was found.

CONCLUSION: Generally, safety issues were taken into account in the approval process of other drugs in the class. The approaches were different and determined by the nature of the ADR. Taking safety issues into account in the approval process did not seem to impact on the time taken to perform the pre-approval clinical programme.


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