U.S. Food and Drug Administration anticancer drug approval trends from 2016 to 2018 for lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer

3rd May 2021


Objective: This paper aims to describe the clinical and regulatory aspects of new drugs and indications that were approved for lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer, from 2016 to 2018, in order to provide health technology assessment trends in oncology.

Methods: Data were collected from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online database for new medications and indications approved for the above-mentioned types of cancer. Data regarding clinical study characteristics and regulatory information were collected.

Results: From 2016 to 2018, 53 percent of the FDA approvals of new drugs and indications for the most incident cancers were for oral protein kinase inhibitor monotherapy for advanced lung cancer. Since 2018, four drugs were approved as tumor-agnostic therapies. A biomarker was included in 72 percent of indications, and 58 percent of approvals were for targeted therapies, potentially heralding an end to research into conventional cytotoxic agents. A special designation for faster approval was granted in 78 percent of new approvals. The majority of the studies were open label randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (44 percent), followed by blind RCTs, single-arm clinical trials, and cohort studies. Only 14 percent of studies used overall survival as the primary end point; the vast majority used surrogate end points, and did not use patient-important outcomes. Three biosimilars were approved in the period.

Conclusion: Advanced lung cancer therapy, mainly targeted drugs, accounted for 53 percent of approvals. Special designations for faster approval were used in 78 percent of FDA approvals, and four drugs were approved for tumor-agnostic treatment-a new form of approval.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Cancer; Colorectal cancer; Drug approval; FDA; Lung cancer; Prostate cancer; United States Food and Drug Administration.