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U.S. laws enacted since 1983 have aimed to enhance the development and marketing of new pharmaceutical products. We thoroughly characterized all new molecular entities, therapeutic biologics, and gene and cell therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the period 1980–2022 in the context of these laws and regulations. Throughout the study period, the FDA approved 1355 new pharmaceutical products. The median FDA review time decreased from 26.6 months prior to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (1992), which authorized the FDA to collect fees from drug companies to 9.9 months after the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (2012), which created new designations that eliminated the requirement for evidence of added therapeutic benefit for FDA expedited drug review. The greatest increase in approvals occurred in antineoplastic and immunomodulating drugs, biologics, and orphan drugs. More than half of new drug approvals benefited from regulatory designations and pathways that did not require addressing unmet medical needs or demonstrating therapeutic benefit over available alternatives. The legislative goal of bringing more drugs to the market faster has been achieved. Further studies are needed to determine the therapeutic value to patients of new drugs approved using expedited approval pathways.


This article was originally published in Scientific Reports, volume 14, in 2024.


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