Comparison of treatment effect sizes from pivotal and postapproval trials of novel therapeutics approved by the FDA based on surrogate markers of disease: a meta-epidemiological study

Wallach, J. D., Ciani, O., Pease, A. M., Gonsalves, G. S., Krumholz, H. M., Taylor, R. S. and Ross, J. S. (2018) Comparison of treatment effect sizes from pivotal and postapproval trials of novel therapeutics approved by the FDA based on surrogate markers of disease: a meta-epidemiological study. BMC Medicine, 16(1), 45. (doi: 10.1186/s12916-018-1023-9) (PMID:29562926) (PMCID:PMC5863466)

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Abstract

Background: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) often approves new drugs based on trials that use surrogate markers for endpoints, which involve certain trade-offs and may risk making erroneous inferences about the medical product’s actual clinical effect. This study aims to compare the treatment effects among pivotal trials supporting FDA approval of novel therapeutics based on surrogate markers of disease with those observed among postapproval trials for the same indication. Methods: We searched Drugs@FDA and PubMed to identify published randomized superiority design pivotal trials for all novel drugs initially approved by the FDA between 2005 and 2012 based on surrogate markers as primary endpoints and published postapproval trials using the same surrogate markers or patient-relevant outcomes as endpoints. Summary ratio of odds ratios (RORs) and difference between standardized mean differences (dSMDs) were used to quantify the average difference in treatment effects between pivotal and matched postapproval trials. Results: Between 2005 and 2012, the FDA approved 88 novel drugs for 90 indications based on one or multiple pivotal trials using surrogate markers of disease. Of these, 27 novel drugs for 27 indications were approved based on pivotal trials using surrogate markers as primary endpoints that could be matched to at least one postapproval trial, for a total of 43 matches. For nine (75.0%) of the 12 matches using the same non-continuous surrogate markers as trial endpoints, pivotal trials had larger treatment effects than postapproval trials. On average, treatment effects were 50% higher (more beneficial) in the pivotal than the postapproval trials (ROR 1.5; 95% confidence interval CI 1.01–2.23). For 17 (54.8%) of the 31 matches using the same continuous surrogate markers as trial endpoints, pivotal trials had larger treatment effects than the postapproval trials. On average, there was no difference in treatment effects between pivotal and postapproval trials (dSMDs 0.01; 95% CI -0.15–0.16). Conclusions: Many postapproval drug trials are not directly comparable to previously published pivotal trials, particularly with respect to endpoint selection. Although treatment effects from pivotal trials supporting FDA approval of novel therapeutics based on non-continuous surrogate markers of disease are often larger than those observed among postapproval trials using surrogate markers as trial endpoints, there is no evidence of difference between pivotal and postapproval trials using continuous surrogate markers.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This project was conducted as part of the Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency at Yale, funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which supports JDW, GSG, and JSR.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Taylor, Professor Rod
Authors: Wallach, J. D., Ciani, O., Pease, A. M., Gonsalves, G. S., Krumholz, H. M., Taylor, R. S., and Ross, J. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMC Medicine
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1741-7015
ISSN (Online):1741-7015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Medicine 16(1):45
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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