Comparative study on anticancer drug access times between FDA, EMA and the French temporary authorisation for use program over 13 years

Emmanuelle Jacquet, Ghania Kerouani-Lafaye, Francoise Grude, Sergio Goncalves, Annie Lorence, Florence Turcry, Liora Brunel, Laetitia Belgodere, Adrien Monard, Gaëlle Guyader, Lotfi Boudali, Nicolas Albin
European Journal of Cancer 2021 April 7, 149: 82-90

INTRODUCTION: The cancer incidence continues to rise worldwide. Medical innovation has a major impact on patient survival, but within drug development, it can take more than 10 years to obtain marketing authorisation (MA). The time required for access to therapeutic innovation remains critical, so France has developed a specific expanded access program named ATU, which allows the administration of drugs before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval. The purpose of this study is to put in perspective the average time to access antineoplastic drugs worldwide, taking into account ATU, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EMA approvals.

METHODS: The ATU system allows the use of a medicine before its MA, under exceptional conditions. All antineoplastic drugs in oncology that have benefited from the ATU system are analysed in terms of tumour site, biomarkers and number of patients who have access to the drug.

RESULTS: Between 1st January 2007 and 31st December 2019, 36 of 64 drugs (56.2%) that received MA in oncology were assigned an ATU, to the benefit of 16,927 patients. Thanks to the ATU, 25 of 36 drugs (69.4%) were made available early, on average 203 d (95% CI, 76-330) before FDA approval and on average 428 d (95% CI, 272-583) before EMA approval. Only three of 36 drugs were approved by the EMA before the FDA, and the average time lapse between European MA and FDA approval for these 36 drugs was 216 d (95% CI, 140-293).

CONCLUSION: This article demonstrates that the ATU system allows patients to benefit from therapeutic innovations before MA in Europe and USA, with full coverage by the healthcare system.

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