Certain limitations of evidence available on drugs and devices at the time of market approval often persist in the post-marketing period. Often, post-marketing research landscape is fragmented. When regulatory agencies require pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to conduct studies in the post-marketing period, these studies might remain incomplete many years after approval. Even when completed, many post-marketing studies lack meaningful active comparators, have observational designs, and might not collect patient-relevant outcomes. Regulators, in collaboration with the industry and patients, ought to ensure that the key questions unanswered at the time of drug and device approval are resolved in a timely fashion during the post-marketing phase. We propose a set of seven key guiding principles that we believe will provide the necessary incentives for pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to generate comparative data in the post-marketing period. First, regulators (for drugs and devices), notified bodies (for devices in Europe), health technology assessment organisations, and payers should develop customised evidence generation plans, ensuring that future post-approval studies address any limitations of the data available at the time of market entry impacting the benefit–risk profiles of drugs and devices. Second, post-marketing studies should be designed hierarchically: priority should be given to efforts aimed at evaluating a product's net clinical benefit in randomised trials compared with current known effective therapy, whenever possible, to address common decisional dilemmas. Third, post-marketing studies should incorporate active comparators as appropriate. Fourth, use of non-randomised studies for the evaluation of clinical benefit in the post-marketing period should be limited to instances when the magnitude of effect is deemed to be large or when it is possible to reasonably infer the comparative benefits or risks in settings, in which doing a randomised trial is not feasible. Fifth, efficiency of randomised trials should be improved by streamlining patient recruitment and data collection through innovative design elements. Sixth, governments should directly support and facilitate the production of comparative post-marketing data by investing in the development of collaborative research networks and data systems that reduce the complexity, cost, and waste of rigorous post-marketing research efforts. Last, financial incentives and penalties should be developed or more actively reinforced.
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