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Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Jul;30(7):1375-81. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0231. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Despite criticism of the FDA review process, new cancer drugs reach patients sooner in the United States than in Europe.

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Friends of Cancer Research, Washington, DC, USA.


The US Food and Drug Administration is often criticized as inefficient compared to its European counterpart, the European Medicines Agency. This criticism is especially common in the field of oncology, where severely ill patients have few therapeutic options. We conducted a direct drug-to-drug comparison of the two regulatory agencies' approvals of new oncology drugs. We found that contrary to public assertions, the median time for approval for new cancer medicines in the United States was just six months--and that these new anticancer medicines are typically available in the United States before they are in Europe. Our findings reinforce the need for strong financial and public support of the Food and Drug Administration, so that such medicines can continue to be made available speedily to patients in need.

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