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JOURNAL ARTICLE

A comparison of new drugs approved by the FDA, the EMA, and Swissmedic: an assessment of the international harmonization of drugs

Minette-Joƫlle Zeukeng, Enrique Seoane-Vazquez, Pascal Bonnabry
European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2018, 74 (6): 811-818
29470610

INTRODUCTION: This study compared the characteristics of new human drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicine Agency (EMA), and Swissmedic (SMC) in the period 2007 to 2016.

METHODS: The list of new drugs and therapeutic biologics approved by the FDA, the EMA, and SMC in the period 2007 to 2016 was collected from websites of those agencies. The study included regulatory information, approval date, and indication for each drug. Descriptive statistical t tests and x2 -tests were performed for the analysis.

RESULTS: From 2007 to 2016, 134 new drugs were approved by all three regulatory agencies. Overall, 66.4% of the drugs were first approved by the FDA, 30.6% by the EMA, and 3.0% by SMC. The difference in approval dates between SMC and the EMA, SMC and the FDA, and the FDA and the EMA were statistically significant. The indications approved by the FDA, the EMA, and SMC for the same drugs were similar in content for 23.1% drugs and different in 76.9% of the drugs. Significant differences in indications existed between the FDA and SMC and the FDA and the EMA, but not between the EMA and SMC.

CONCLUSION: There were differences in the characteristics of new drugs approved by the EMA, the FDA, and SMC in the period 2007-2016. Overall, two thirds of the new drugs were first approved by the FDA. Differences in indications were found in three out of four new drugs approved by the three regulatory agencies. Despite international drug regulation harmonization efforts, significant differences in the characteristics of new drugs approved by different agencies persist.

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