Monday, January 3, 2011

New Drug Approvals Slipped in 2010 - WSJ.com

The Food and Drug Administration approved about 21 drugs in 2010, a relatively modest figure that shows the pharmaceutical industry hasn't yet escaped its drought in recent years.

A few potential blockbusters won approval during the year, but some of the most highly anticipated new products got delayed into next year or beyond. That partly reflects a tougher environment at the FDA, with regulators stepping up their scrutiny of safety issues in drugs for obesity, diabetes and other conditions.

According to monthly drug-approval reports on the FDA's website, 21 new drugs were approved in 2010, down from 25 in 2009 and 24 in 2008, but higher from a recent low of 18 in 2007.

The final approval figures, as well as the number of applications received by the agency in 2010, won't be available until next month. The approval figures don't include dozens of approvals granted for new formulations or new uses of existing drugs.

Although the 2010 figures are a bit lower than previous years, FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh said there's "no systemic change in how the FDA is approaching drug approvals."

The figures include several major biologic drugs, which are created from living cells and represent a growing portion of the pharmaceutical market. Amgen Inc. won approval for Prolia, a drug that is injected twice yearly to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Roche Holding AG's biotechnology unit, Genentech, won approval for Actemra, a drug that's administered intravenously to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

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