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BACKGROUND: Increased understanding of the molecular causes of disease has begun to fulfill the promise of precision medicine with the development of targeted drugs, particularly for serious diseases with unmet needs. The drug approval regulatory process is a critical component to the continued growth of precision medicine drugs and devices. To facilitate the development and approval process of drugs for serious unmet needs, four expedited approval programs have been developed in the US: priority review, accelerated approval, fast track, and breakthrough therapy programs. METHODS: To determine if expedited approval programs are fulfilling the intended goals, we reviewed drug approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2011 and 2017 for new molecular entities (NMEs). RESULTS: From 2011 through 2017, the FDA approved 250 NMEs, ranging from 27 approvals in 2013 to 46 in 2017. The NME approvals spanned 22 different disease classes; almost one-third of all NMEs were for oncology treatments. CONCLUSIONS: As these pathways are utilized more, additional legislative changes may be needed to re-align incentives to promote continued development of innovative drugs for serious unmet needs in a safe, efficacious, and affordable manner.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pers Med

Publication Date





drugs, expedited review, orphan drugs, precision medicine, regulation