FDA Drug Approval:

Review Time Has Decreased in Recent Years

PEMD-96-1: Published: Oct 20, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 7, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided data on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) new drug application (NDA) process, focusing on: (1) whether the timeliness of the review and approval process for new drugs changed in recent years; (2) the factors that distinguish NDA that are approved quickly from those that take longer to approve; (3) what distinguishes NDA that are approved from those that are not; and (4) how FDA drug approval process compares with the approval process in the United Kingdom.

GAO found that: (1) the average number of months for NDA to be approved by FDA decreased from 33 months in 1987 to 19 months in 1992; (2) the overall decrease in approval times was achieved through gradual reductions in the submission of all NDA from 1987 to 1992; (3) the priority FDA assigns to an NDA and the experience of its sponsor determine the timeliness and likelihood of the approval process; and (4) although comparable data is limited, the review times for FDA and its counterpart agency in the United Kingdom are similar.

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