Health Canada has put all Drug Establishment License (DEL) holders on alert as to their regulatory responsibilities and obligations for maintaining good manufacturing practices (GMP). In addition to increasing the frequency of planned and unplanned inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, Health Canada now offers a routinely updated and publicly available online tool for tracking the latest regulatory actions against drug manufacturing companies. The “Inspection Tracker: Drug Manufacturing Establishments” provides a “snapshot of the potential health and safety issues that Health Canada is tracking with companies that fabricate, package/label, test, wholesale, distribute, or import drugs for sale in Canada.” In response to allegations of inadequacy and secrecy, Health Canada has now made available the results of its pharmaceutical manufacturing plant inspections since 2012.
Source: Toronto Star, 6 March 2015
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Vienna have developed a light-field laser imaging system that generates 3D movies of entire brains at a millisecond timescale to create a complete “living” brain map. The research thereby offers a more complete picture of nervous system activity than has been previously possible. The technique is envisioned to elucidate how entire neural circuits operate to generate behavior, thereby empowering new therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders. To date the system has been used to simultaneously image the activity of every neuron in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans as well as the entire brain of a zebrafish larva. Such an approach could help researchers learn more about the biological basis of brain disorders and monitor the reactions of the nervous system to drugs and other substances in the body. The researchers believe that the “ability to survey activity throughout a nervous system may help pinpoint the cells or networks that are involved with a brain disorder, leading to new ideas for therapies.” In addition, this technique may be useful for mechanistic toxicology to help determine the relevance of adverse events for human safety.
Source: Drug Development News
According to a commentary by former Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee members, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, increased “fast-tracking” of drug approvals (i.e., for medical conditions with no effective treatment) necessitates a counterbalance of enhanced postmarket surveillance and ethical governance throughout the lifecycle of a drug. The authors of the report argue that the FDA, when requiring that a postmarked study be initiated, has a unique ethical obligation to research participants, which “cannot be handed off to contractors or the industry sponsor.” Furthermore, “because some postmarked trials are required specifically to address mounting concerns that the drug’s risks may outweigh its benefits, there are heightened obligations to ensure that potential research participants understand the risks of enrollment.” Because the volume of postmarked studies is increasing – due not only to FDA-mandated research, but also to increased emphasis on comparative-effectiveness – the benefit-risk balance for comparable study designs can vary depending upon the purpose for which a specific study is being conducted. The challenges, therefore, for ensuring truly informed consent by study participants can vary widely.
Source: Science Codex
The FDA has published an updated Guidance Agenda – new and revised draft guidances CDER is planning to publish during calendar year 2012. Guidances of particular interest to nonclinical pharmaceutical toxicologists may include:
• Endocrine Disruption Potential of Drugs: Non Clinical Evaluation
• Integrated Summary of Safety
• Food-Effect Bioavailability and Fed Bioequivalence Studies—Bioavailability and Bioequivalence Studies for Orally Administered Drug Products Submitted in New Drug Applications General Consideration
• Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – General Considerations
• Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – Study Data
• Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format – Standardized Study Data
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The authors – CM Wittich, CM Burkle, and WL Lanier – offer a concise review of the topic of off-label drug use including its definition, prevalence, and implications for drug safety. The article format addresses 10 common questions and their answers about off-label drug use. The breadth of application, its acceptance, and the liabilities of off-label use are explored. A history of FDA regulations surrounding the practice is presented, which helps to put its evolution into proper perspective. Off-label use, which occurs in every medical specialty, is more common in patient populations not likely to be included in clinical trials (e.g., pediatric, pregnant, or psychiatric patients). Once a medication is marketed, the FDA does not limit or control how the medication is prescribed by physicians. The pros and cons of the distribution of information regarding the off-label use of medications by pharmaceutical companies, the use of informed consent, and the liability of prescribing physicians are discussed.
Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings – pdf of full article.
Linguamatics, the leader in natural language processing (NLP)-based text mining, announced that the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) has licensed its 12E text mining platform as a discovery and decision support tool to supplement laboratory research efforts on drug safety. The FDA will use the platform to review published literature and drug product labels to address key biomedical issues, including mechanisms of drug toxicity and disease processes. In addition to document retrieval, the 12E platform can identify, extract, synthesize, and analyze relevant facts and relationships (e.g., between genes and diseases, drugs and side effects). Customers include top tier commercial, academic, and governmental organizations, including 9 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies. The 12E platform is available both as an in-house or cloud-based system.
Typical applications in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare include:
• Mapping gene-disease relationships and identifying potentially novel therapeutic targets
• Biomarker discovery
• Drug repurposing
• Drug safety
• Patent analysis
• Clinical trial site selection and study design
• Mining electronic medical records to improve prediction of health outcomes
• Translational medicine
• Competitive intelligence
• Social media mining
• Subjective data mining (sentiment analysis, key opinion mining)
Sources: BioSpace and Business Weekly
The objective of a recent survey by Cambridge Health Associates was to identify trends in safety biomarkers and their utilization in drug development. Regardless of company size, recurrent themes for assessing drug safety in early preclinical development were noted.
- Greater knowledge of safety biomarkers improved mechanistic understanding and helped to determine the relevance of nonclinical findings for clinical risk assessment.
- Preclinical inclusion of systems or pathway modeling was deemed important for the selection and interpretation of biomarkers of organ toxicity.
- Physical chemical prediction software or other forms of genetic or developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) prediction software (e.g., DEREK, M-CASE, Leadscope) were being incorporated into early preclinical development by most companies. All 3 software companies have Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) with the FDA.
- For cellular parameter screens, most companies are using image-based multi-parametric approaches of cellular analysis and cytotoxicity at the single-cell and subcellular level (via High Content Analysis [HCA])
- Off-target screening (usually a CEREP panel) was performed by most companies early in preclinical development.
As might be expected to “slow the burn,” smaller companies ran fewer preclinical screens to predict drug safety and performed these screens later in the drug development process. Given that larger companies expect to have this information sooner than later, companies wanting to partner and/or be acquired may consider including more screens for drug safety earlier in their preclinical development programs.
Source: DSEC Drug Safety Executive Blog
An innovative Procedure Cage invented by Dr. Ryoichi Nagata, SNBL USA chairman, is at the center of a comprehensive program designed to significantly raise standards for non-human primate (NHP) care and thereby improve the quality of preclinical data collected.
The Procedure Cage attaches directly to an animal’s home cage allowing animals to enter on their own. This innovation significantly reduces animal stress by eliminating the need for capture-by-hand or use of other restraints, creating a calmer handling environment. In addition, the use of this separate cage for study-related procedures allows the animal to always view their home cage as a “safe place.”
The Procedure Cage is currently being tested at six beta test sites including key pharmaceutical industry, government, and university locations. The results will be presented at the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) National Meeting in Minneapolis on November 4-8, 2012. The Procedure Cage is available exclusively through SNBL USA.
Procedure Cage Demo: Click here
Source: SNBL USA newsletter (18 July 2012)
Analysis and overview of new drug reviews from 1993 through present by an over 20-year-active FDA veteran of drug approvals, Dr. John Jenkins (Director, Office of New Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research). The presentation includes review times and comparison to global approvals. Of note, median approval times for New Molecular Entities (NME) applications are 10 months, a 47% reduction from calendar year 1993. A status update on CDER compliance with past PDUFA goals is given, with information on forward planning to comply with PDUFA V goals. In accordance with the enhanced emphasis on benefit-risk analysis in PDUFA V, discussion of the anticipated framework and balance of stakeholder concerns is detailed. The PDUFA V program for NME review is presented, with key elements and projected timelines detailed.
This slide presentation gives excellent perspective of past and future trends for the global pharmaceutical market, with emphasis on FDA approvals of NME.
Source Slide Show (pdf hyperlink): FDA
Pharmacogenomics can play an important role in identifying responders and non-responders to medications, avoiding adverse events, and optimizing drug dose. Drug labels may contain information on genomic biomarkers and can describe:
- Drug exposure and clinical response variability
- Risk for adverse events
- Genotype-specific dosing
- Mechanisms of drug action
- Polymorphic drug target and disposition genes
This resource table lists FDA-approved drugs with pharmacogenomic information / biomarkers in their labels.