CMS Spends Billions on Drugs Granted FDA Accelerated Approval With Unproven Clinical Benefits

Through 2020, CMS spent $68 billion on 38 drugs that were granted accelerated approval from the FDA between 2012 and 2017, with spending after conversion to standard approval accounting for 75% of overall spending, according to a JAMA Health Forum study. However, only 34% of these drugs had a confirmatory trial evaluating a clinical outcome as a primary end point and more than $40 billion was spent for drugs evaluated using surrogate end points. Clinical trials for one drug that converted to standard approval (pembrolizumab) and three that remained unconverted (atezolizumab, durvalumab and olaratumab) for their original indications failed to confirm benefit for primary efficacy end points, while these drugs cost CMS $14 billion in total through 2020. The researchers concluded that “persistent evidentiary gaps should prompt payers to limit spending on promising drugs with unproven benefits.

© 2022 MMIT
Jinghong Chen

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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