The House Energy and Commerce Committee seems poised to make substantial changes to the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) Accelerated Approval Program. The committee’s Democratic chairman, Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Republican ranking member, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) have proposed competing bills that were featured prominently in the Health Subcommittee’s legislative hearing on March 17, 2022.
The Accelerated Approval Program was developed in 1982, largely in response to the HIV/AIDs epidemic, to expedite approval of novel drugs that treat serious conditions with unmet medical needs based on a surrogate endpoint. Drugs that receive accelerated approval must undergo post-approval (Phase IV) studies to confirm the intended clinical benefit. If the clinical testing does not demonstrate the intended clinical benefit, FDA has mechanisms to remove the drug from the market.
However, concerns have mounted regarding FDA’s ability to remove ineffective drugs from the market, and those concerns were punctuated during a February 3, 2022 Health Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of FDA User Fees. Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, the Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA testified that the program’s existing mechanism to withdraw accelerated approvals is cumbersome, resource intensive, and seldom used.