FDA Continues Support of Innovation in Development of Gene Therapy Products

31 January 2020

GMP News

This is a pivotal time in the field of gene therapy as the FDA continues its efforts to support innovators developing new medical products for Americans and others around the world. To date, the FDA has approved four gene therapy products, which insert new genetic material into a patient’s cells. The agency anticipates many more approvals in the coming years, as evidenced by the more than 900 investigational new drug (IND) applications for ongoing clinical studies in this area. The FDA believes this will provide patients and providers with increased therapeutic choices.

In that spirit, the FDA is announcing the release of a number of important policies: six final guidances on gene therapy manufacturing and clinical development of products and a draft guidance, Interpreting Sameness of Gene Therapy Products Under the Orphan Drug Regulations.

“The growth of innovative research and product development in the field of gene therapy is exciting to us as physicians, scientists and regulators,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We understand and appreciate the tremendous impact that gene therapies can have on patients by potentially reversing the debilitating trajectory of diseases. These therapies, once only conceptual, are rapidly becoming a therapeutic reality for an increasing number of patients with a wide range of diseases, including rare genetic disorders and autoimmune diseases.”

The six final guidances issued today provide the agency’s recommendations for product developers on manufacturing issues and recommendations for those focusing on gene therapy products to address specific disease areas. The six guidance documents incorporate input from many stakeholders and take a significant step toward helping to shape the modern structure for the development and manufacture of gene therapies. The agency is issuing this suite of documents to help advance the field of gene therapy while providing recommendations to help ensure that these innovative products meet the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.

The draft guidance on interpreting sameness of gene therapy products under the orphan drug regulations provides the FDA’s proposed current thinking on an interpretation of sameness between gene therapy products for the purposes of obtaining orphan-drug designation and eligibility for orphan-drug exclusivity. The draft guidance focuses on how the FDA will evaluate differences between gene therapy products when they are intended to treat the same disease. As laid out in the draft guidance and our regulations, the agency’s determination will consider the principal molecular structural features of the gene therapy products, which includes transgenes (the transferred gene) and vectors (the vehicle for delivering the transgene to a cell).

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