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Reflecting an intensifying effort to conquer cancer, the portion of new oncology treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration swelled over the past decade, reaching 27% of all drug approvals compared with just 4% during the 1980s, according to a new analysis.

Between 2010 and 2018, FDA approvals for cancer therapies outstripped endorsements for antibiotics and drugs used to treat central nervous system disorders and cardiovascular ills, all of which are also major therapeutic categories. In fact, approvals for anti-infective and cardiovascular drugs fell notably, while approvals for central nervous system drugs remained stable. In all, the FDA approved 126 cancer medicines during that time.


“New approaches to development helped to drive the surge in new oncology products, including improvements in clinical trial design, novel drug formats, and a focus on new and validated targets,” explained Joseph DiMasi, research associate professor and director of economic analysis at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, which ran the analysis.

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