Internal Deadlines, Drug Approvals, and Safety Problems
44 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020 Last revised: 14 Sep 2022
Date Written: November 2020
Absent explicit quotas, incentives, reporting, or fiscal year-end motives, drug approvals around the world surge in December, at month-ends, and before respective major national holidays. Drugs approved before these informal deadlines are associated with significantly more adverse effects, including more hospitalizations, life-threatening incidents, and deaths – particularly, drugs most rushed through the approval process. These patterns are consistent with a model in which regulators rush to meet internal production benchmarks associated with salient calendar periods: this “desk-clearing” behavior results in more lax review, leading both to increased output and increased safety issues at particular—and predictable—periodicities over the year.
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