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Cancer drugs reach US patients ‘faster than Europeans’


Cancer treatments are approved and reach the market faster in the US than in Europe, a study shows.

The claim, which will enliven the current drug access debate, contrasts with the widely held belief that Europe approves oncology drugs first, members of the non-for-profit organisation Friends of Cancer Research said.

Between 2003 and 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 32 new cancer treatments, almost a quarter more than the 26 approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Twenty three cancer drugs were approved by both Europe and the US. All of these were made available to patients faster in the US than in Europe.

Samantha Roberts and colleagues, who authored the research in the journal Health Affairs, said: “The US Food and Drug Administration is often criticised as inefficient compared to its European counterpart.

“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.”

Health Affairs

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