In 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), which contained provisions to help accelerate medical product innovation while reducing regulatory burden, as well as to increase efforts for critical research and increase the involvement of patients and their perspectives in research and the product development process. The Cures Act specifically provided the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to modernize product development and review, and create greater efficiencies and predictability in product development and review. In June 2018, in response to this congressional mandate and corresponding new authorities, as well as reauthorizations of FDA’s user fee agreements, FDA made a series of announcements for a proposal to modernize new drug development.
Highlights of FDA’s initial proposal included:
- Focusing on recruiting talent across disciplines;
- Building multidisciplinary teams for more efficient collaboration;
- Prioritizing operational excellence through a single and consistent review process;
- Improving knowledge management through enhancements to information technology and honed expertise within review divisions;
- Emphasizing safety and risk-benefit analysis before and after approval; and
- Incorporating the patient voice into product development.
As articulated by former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, “[a] principal aim of these proposed changes is to elevate the role of . . . scientists and medical officers to take on even more thought leadership in their fields.” The agency contemplates implementing organizational and structural changes that make drug review divisions more therapeutically-focused to promote efficient review and transparency in – as well as patient and stakeholder access to – the review process. According to the agency, these and other changes that are part of the Cures Act will result in a 20 percent improvement in efficiency.