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NCDEU Festschrift

What’s Next After 50 Years of Psychiatric Drug Development: An FDA Perspective

Thomas P. Laughren, MD

Published: September 15, 2010

Article Abstract

This article discusses changes in psychiatric drug development from a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standpoint. It first looks back at changes that have been influenced by regulatory process and then looks forward at FDA initiatives that are likely to affect psychiatric drug development in the future.

FDA protects the public health by ensuring the safety and efficacy of drug products introduced into the US market. FDA works with drug sponsors during development, and, when applications are submitted, reviews the safety and efficacy data and the proposed labeling. Drug advertising and promotion and postmarketing surveillance also fall within FDA’s responsibility.

Among the many changes in psychiatric drug development over the past 50 years, several have been particularly influenced by FDA. Populations studied have expanded diagnostically and demographically, and approved psychiatric indications have become more focused on the clinical entities actually studied, including in some cases specific symptom domains of recognized syndromes. Trial designs have become increasingly complex and informative, and approaches to data analysis have evolved to better model the reality of clinical trials.

This article addresses 2 general areas of innovation at FDA that will affect psychiatric drug development in years to come. Several programs falling under the general heading of the Critical Path Initiative, ie, biomarkers, adaptive design, end-of-phase 2A meetings, and data standards, are described. In addition, a number of important safety initiatives, including Safety First, the Sentinel Initiative, the Safe Use Initiative, and meta-analysis for safety, are discussed.

J Clin Psychiatry 2010;71(9):1196-1204

Submitted: May 19, 2010; accepted May 20, 2010(doi:10.4088/JCP.10m06262gry).

Corresponding author: Thomas P. Laughren, MD, Division of Psychiatry Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20993 (

Volume: 71

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