The analysis of longitudinal healthcare data outside of highly controlled parallel-group randomized trials, termed real-world evidence (RWE), has received increasing attention in the medical literature. In this paper, we discuss the potential role of RWE in drug regulation with a focus on the analysis of healthcare databases. We present several cases in which RWE is already used and cases in which RWE could potentially support regulatory decision making. We summarize key issues that investigators and regulators should consider when designing or evaluating such studies, and we propose a structured process for implementing analyses that facilitates regulatory review. We evaluate the empirical evidence base supporting the validity, transparency, and reproducibility of RWE from analysis of healthcare databases and discuss the work that still needs to be done to ensure that such analyses can provide decision-ready evidence on the effectiveness and safety of treatments.
© 2019 The Authors Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics © 2019 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.