Characterizing expanded access and compassionate use programs for experimental drugs

BMC Res Notes. 2017 Jul 28;10(1):350. doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2687-5.


Objective: We sought to determine the characteristics of "expanded access" and "compassionate use" programs registered in and to determine the percentage of drugs provided through these programs that ultimately received FDA marketing approval.

Results: We identified 398 expanded access and compassionate use programs (hereafter referred to as expanded access programs) registered on Industry funded 61% (n = 241) of programs individually or collaboratively, while NIH and the US Federal Government rarely funded programs (3% [n = 11] and 2% [n = 6], respectively). Most programs provided access to drugs (71% [n = 282]), 11% to biologics (n = 43), and 10% to medical devices (n = 40). These programs covered 460 unique conditions, the most common being HIV (n = 26), leukemia (22), and multiple myeloma (n = 14). Only 2% of programs reported results in Most programs (82%) were open to enrolling adults and seniors (n = 326). These programs provided access to 210 unique experimental drugs, of which 76% have received FDA approval.

Keywords: 21st Century Cures Act; Access to medicines; Bioethics; Compassionate use; Ethics; Expanded access; Experimental drugs; Pharmaceutical industry; Policy; Real-world evidence; Right to Try Laws.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Compassionate Use Trials / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drugs, Investigational*
  • Humans
  • Program Development / statistics & numerical data*


  • Drugs, Investigational