Pharmaceutical Policy Change and the Safety of New Drugs

Posted: 21 Jul 2003


Policy reforms in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have led to substantial increases in the speed of new-drug review. While data show that FDA review times for new drugs have fallen as much as 50 percent, other data show that several new drugs have been withdrawn from the market for safety reasons. This flurry of new-drug withdrawals raises a question. Have increases in the speed of new-drug review had an adverse effect on new-drug safety? This analysis uses adverse drug reaction (ADR) data from the FDA's Spontaneous Reporting System to examine this question. Specifically, ADR counts for newly approved drugs are estimated as a function of drug characteristics, patient characteristics, and regulatory factors (such as the speed of new-drug review) using negative binomial regression analysis. The primary result is that reductions in new-drug review times are associated with increases in both ADRs requiring hospitalization and ADRs resulting in death.

Keywords: pharmaceutical policy, FDA regulation, new-drug safety

JEL Classification: I18, L5, K0

Suggested Citation

Olson, Mary K., Pharmaceutical Policy Change and the Safety of New Drugs. Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 45, No. 2, Part 2, October 2002. Available at SSRN:

Mary K. Olson (Contact Author)

Tulane University ( email )

Department of Economics
306 Tilton Hall
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
504 862-8342 (Phone)
504 865-5869 (Fax)

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