Purpose: The globalization of clinical trials has accelerated recent advances in multiple myeloma (MM). However, it is unclear whether trial enrollment locations are reflective of the global burden of MM and whether access to novel therapies is timely and equitable for countries that participate in those trials.
Methods: To assess this, we characterized where MM trials that led to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals were conducted and determined how often and quickly these drug regimens received approval in their participating trial countries on the basis of country income level and geographic region.
Results: A systematic review was conducted to identify all MM clinical trials that met their primary endpoint, enrolled patients outside the United States, and resulted in FDA approval from 2005 to 2019. A total of 18 pivotal MM clinical trials were identified. High-income countries enrolled patients in 100% (18/18) of the trials identified, whereas upper-middle and lower-middle-income countries were represented in 61% (11/18) and 28% (5/18) of trials, respectively. No patients from low-income countries were enrolled. One trial enrolled patients in sub-Saharan Africa, and no trials enrolled patients in South Asia/Caribbean. For drugs/regimens that were approved in their participating countries, the median time from FDA approval to approval was 10.9 months. There were no drugs approved in lower-middle-income trial countries. MM trials leading to FDA approval are generally run in high-income, European, and Central Asian countries.
Conclusion: There are substantial disparities in where novel therapies are evaluated and where they are ultimately approved for use on the basis of income level and geography.