Cancer Drug Trials: Does Changing the Endpoint from Overall Survival Hasten the Approval Process?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emerson Chen, MDChief Fellow, Hematology-Oncology, PGY-6Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Chen

Emerson Chen, MD
Chief Fellow, Hematology-Oncology, PGY-6
Oregon Health & Science University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many cancer drugs are approved annually giving the appearance of innovation; however, some drugs may have been approved because of a lower bar. Use of lesser endpoints like response rate (how tumor shrinks) and progression-free survival (how tumor has delayed growth) have been proposed to speed trials when compared against traditional endpoints like overall survival (how long patients might live).

Using published trials that led to cancer drug approval from 2006 to 2017, we estimated how long it would take to get each of these three endpoints across all cancer drugs and indications to see how much time we could save by using these weaker but faster endpoints.

We see that many trials using overall survival used less time than anticipated, and many trials using response rate or progression-free survival actually took quite a bit of time.  In part that is due to researchers needing to document the duration of the response. But, whatever the reason, the time to get each of the three endpoints is actually more similar than different, and we estimate that our current use of  these faster endpoints are saving us only 11 months compared to using only overall survival.

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