But what happens to these drugs? When do they become accessible to cancer patients — if at all?
In a new review published in ecancermedicalscience, researchers trace the journey anti-cancer drugs take between discovery and clinical practice.
“Bringing a new medication to clinical practice is a lengthy process and involves many stakeholders with a very diverse background, ranging from researchers, regulatory agencies, payers, physicians and patients,” says Dr Felipe Ades of the Jules Bordet Institute, lead author of the review.
Prior to being incorporated into daily practice, drugs must obtain regulatory approval, succeed in changing the prescription habits of physicians, and ultimately gain the compliance of individual patients.
Each stage of development presents unique hurdles and challenges — for example, the average time for a drug to gain approval in the European Union is 418 days.
Once an anti-cancer drug is launched in the market, it takes around 3 years to have maximum impact on survival.
The complex life history of anti-cancer ends in the hands of the patient — who may not be inclined to take the drug at all.
“Aligning these different interests and expertise is a challenging task, but certainly a “win-win-win-win” situation,” Dr Ades says.