Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DDMAC to weigh in on trial design?

The FDA Law Blog has an incredibly interesting entry regarding last week's Untitled Letter from the FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) to Novartis.

The letter, regarding a detail aid for Novartis's Focalin XR, accuses Novartis of making "unsubstantiated superiority claims" for Focalin XR in comparison to Concerta. What is interesting -- and completely new as far as I can tell -- is that the claims DDMAC are taking exception to are, in fact, primary endpoints of two controlled clinical trials:

Treatment for ADHD consists of symptom relief over an extended time period; thus, ADHD medications must control disease symptoms over the entire treatment course. However, the referenced clinical studies only focused on one specific time point (2 hours post-dose) as the primary efficacy measure in the treatment course of Focalin XR and Concerta. By focusing on the 2 hour post-dose time point, the studies did not account for the different pharmacokinetic profiles and subsequent efficacy profiles associated with Focalin XR and Concerta over the entire treatment course.

So, in essence, DDMAC appears to be taking exception to the trial design, not to Novartis's interpretation of the trial results. This would seem to be a dramatic change in scope.

I am not familiar with the trials in question -- I will post an update with more information shortly. Of special interest to me would be to understand: Were these pivotal trials that played a role in Focalin XR's approval? If so, did the FDA review them in a Special Protocol Assessment (and therefore are two distinct branches of FDA providing divergent opinions on these endpoints)?