A decade of marketing approval of gene and cell-based therapies in the United States, European Union and Japan: An evaluation of regulatory decision-making


      There is a widely held expectation of clinical advance with the development of gene and cell-based therapies (GCTs). Yet, establishing benefits and risks is highly uncertain. We examine differences in decision-making for GCT approval between jurisdictions by comparing regulatory assessment procedures in the United States (US), European Union (EU) and Japan. A cohort of 18 assessment procedures was analyzed by comparing product characteristics, evidentiary and non-evidentiary factors considered for approval and post-marketing risk management. Product characteristics are very heterogeneous and only three products are marketed in multiple jurisdictions. Almost half of all approved GCTs received an orphan designation. Overall, confirmatory evidence or indications of clinical benefit were evident in US and EU applications, whereas in Japan approval was solely granted based on non-confirmatory evidence. Due to scientific uncertainties and safety risks, substantial post-marketing risk management activities were requested in the EU and Japan. EU and Japanese authorities often took unmet medical needs into consideration in decision-making for approval. These observations underline the effects of implemented legislation in these two jurisdictions that facilitate an adaptive approach to licensing. In the US, the recent assessments of two chimeric antigen receptor-T cell (CAR-T) products are suggestive of a trend toward a more permissive approach for GCT approval under recent reforms, in contrast to a more binary decision-making approach for previous approvals. It indicates that all three regulatory agencies are currently willing to take risks by approving GCTs with scientific uncertainties and safety risks, urging them to pay accurate attention to post-marketing risk management.

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