Understanding Use of Real-World Data and Real-World Evidence to Support Regulatory Decisions on Medical Product Effectiveness

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Jan;111(1):150-154. doi: 10.1002/cpt.2272. Epub 2021 Jul 2.


RWE has potential to provide efficient and relevant information on the effectiveness of medical products, complementing the data generated in clinical trials; however, how RWE can support regulatory decision-making is unclear, potentially limiting its use. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize instances where RWE was included in the evidence package to support the effectiveness of a medical product regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A retrospective landscape analysis was conducted to identify instances where RWE was submitted to support effectiveness through targeted review of white and gray literature and publicly available FDA reviews of medical products. Trained evaluators examined FDA reviews to determine if and how RWE contributed to regulatory decision-making regarding effectiveness. Evaluators identified 34 instances of RWE submitted between 1954 and 2020, where 26% of instances were for oncology, 18% for hematology, and 12% for neurology. Over 50% of the products were indicated for use in rare disease or pediatric populations. 82% of products where RWE was submitted received an orphan designation. RWE was included in the product label in 59% of instances. Stated reasons indicating why submitted RWE did not significantly contribute to regulatory decision-making included lack of pre-specification of study design and analysis as well as data reliability and relevancy concerns. While there is historical use of RWE to support medical product effectiveness for oncology and rare diseases, potential exists to leverage the strengths of RWE to support other therapeutic areas and capture outcomes that are most relevant to patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Decision Making
  • Drug Approval / methods*
  • Drug Approval / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Research Design
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration