Strength of Validation for Surrogate End Points Used in the US FDA's Approval of Oncology Drugs Ovarian Cancer and Us OVARIAN CANCER and US Ovarian Cancer and Us

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Strength of Validation for Surrogate End Points Used in the US FDA's Approval of Oncology Drugs



 surrogate endpoint
(SER-uh-gut END-poynt)
In clinical trials, an indicator or sign used in place of another to tell if a treatment works. Surrogate endpoints include a shrinking tumor or lower biomarker levels. They may be used instead of stronger indicators, such as longer survival or improved quality of life, because the results of the trial can be measured sooner. The use of surrogate endpoints in clinical trials may allow earlier approval of new drugs to treat serious or life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. Surrogate endpoints are not always true indicators or signs of how well a treatment works.
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abstract - Mayo Clinic Proceedings
 

Objective

To determine the strength of the surrogate-survival correlation for cancer drug approvals based on a surrogate.

Participants and Methods

We performed a retrospective study of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) database, with focused searches of MEDLINE and Google Scholar. Among cancer drugs approved based on a surrogate end point, we examined previous publications assessing the strength of the surrogate-survival correlation. Specifically, we identified the percentage of surrogate approvals lacking any formal analysis of the strength of the surrogate-survival correlation, and when conducted, the strength of such correlations.

Results

Between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, the FDA approved marketing applications for 55 indications based on a surrogate, of which 25 were accelerated approvals and 30 were traditional approvals. We could not find any formal analyses of the strength of the surrogate-survival correlation in 14 out of 25 accelerated approvals (56%) and 11 out of 30 traditional approvals (37%). For accelerated approvals, just 4 approvals (16%) were made where a level 1 analysis (the most robust way to validate a surrogate) had been performed, with all 4 studies reporting low correlation (r≤0.7). For traditional approvals, a level 1 analysis had been performed for 15 approvals (50%): 8 (53%) reported low correlation (r≤0.7), 4 (27%) medium correlation (r>0.7 to r<0.85), and 3 (20%) high correlation (r≥0.85) with survival.

Conclusions

The use of surrogate end points for drug approval often lacks formal empirical verification of the strength of the surrogate-survival association.

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