More pharmaceutical companies have completed studies required by U.S. health regulators after their products were allowed on the market than previously thought, according to an analysis released on Thursday.
But the study found that FDA database errors had obscured the issue, and critics said the post-approval studies, even when completed, still did not necessarily provide useful long-term information about the safety and effectiveness of the drugs.
Often, the Food and Drug Administration approves drugs and devices for sale on condition that companies keep studying the products for possible additional side effects or other issues.
For years, critics lamented such approvals because the FDA could only request more studies, but could not order them. The critics say companies had little incentive to do the studies once they won approval.
A 2007 law gave the agency more power to require the follow-up studies and ordered the analysis, which found more drug companies than previously thought had completed their studies. Results of the audit by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc were given to the FDA.
"Most companies are doing these studies and they are submitting the reports," said Dr. John Jenkins, director of the FDA's Office of New Drugs.
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