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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Therapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science, Volume 52, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 100-108.

The published version is available at Copyright © Avant et al.


BACKGROUND: Relatively few neonatal drug development studies have been conducted, but an increase is expected with the enactment of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). Understanding the safety of drugs studied in neonates is complicated by the unique nature of the population and the level of illness. The objective of this study was to examine neonatal safety data submitted to the FDA in studies pursuant to the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) and the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA) between 1998 and 2015.

METHODS: FDA databases were searched for BPCA and/or PREA studies that enrolled neonates. Studies that enrolled a minimum of 3 neonates were analyzed for the presence and content of neonatal safety data.

RESULTS: The analysis identified 40 drugs that were studied in 3 or more neonates. Of the 40 drugs, 36 drugs received a pediatric labeling change as a result of studies between 1998 and 2015, that included information from studies including neonates. Fourteen drugs were approved for use in neonates. Clinical trials for 20 of the drugs reported serious adverse events (SAEs) in neonates. The SAEs primarily involved cardiovascular events such as bradycardia and/or hypotension or laboratory abnormalities such as anemia, neutropenia, and electrolyte disturbances. Deaths were reported during studies of 9 drugs.

CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis revealed that SAEs were reported in studies involving 20 of the 40 drugs evaluated in neonates, with deaths identified in 9 of those studies. Patients enrolled in studies were often critically ill, which complicated determination of whether an adverse event was drug-related. We conclude that the traditional means for collecting safety information in drug development trials needs to be adjusted for neonates and will require the collaboration of regulators, industry, and the clinical and research communities to establish appropriate definitions and reporting strategies for the neonatal population.

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