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Drugs in 2019: a brief review

Eleven of the 108 new drugs, combinations, dose strengths, pharmaceutical forms or indications analysed and rated in our French edition in 2019 constituted a notable therapeutic advance, improving patient care in a variety of fields: haemophilia, various cancers, HIV infection, hepatitis C and rare diseases.

Every month, Prescrire publishes independent, comparative, systematic reviews of the latest developments in the pharmaceutical market, be they new active substances, new combinations, new dose strengths, new pharmaceutical forms or new indications. We also closely monitor news of drugs' adverse effects, market withdrawals (instigated by pharmaceutical companies or regulatory authorities), shortages, and the regulatory environment for health products, particularly at EU level.

Our aim is to help subscribers distinguish between true advances in health care and new products or uses that are no better than existing treatments or should never have been authorised, due to uncertainty over their harms or benefits or because they are clearly dangerous.

In 2019, 108 new products or new indications were analysed and rated by Prescrire. As in previous years, a high proportion did not advance patient care, with 61 rated as "Nothing new". Of the 24 that did, 13 represented a minimal advance (rated "Possibly helpful"). Only 11 constituted a notable advance (rated "A real advance" or "Offers an advantage"), 6 of which earned a 2019 Prescrire Drug Award. Nine had been too poorly evaluated to determine their harm-benefit balance (rated "Judgement reserved"). Finally, the data available on 14 of them showed that they are more dangerous than useful (rated "Not acceptable").

 > GRAPHICS   Therapeutic advances in 2019, compared with the previous 9 years

The European system for regulating the pharmaceutical market persists in favouring the pharmaceutical industry and in doing too little to protect patients. In this environment, Prescrire's analyses and ratings remain as necessary as ever.

©Prescrire 1 April 2020

"Drugs in 2019: a brief review" Prescrire Int 2020; 29 (214): 110-111. (Pdf, free).

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Download the full review.
Pdf, free

For more information:

Drugs in 2019: therapeutic
advances, compared with
the previous 9 years
(April 2020)

See also:

The Prescrire Drug
Awards for 2019
(February 2020)