Stories

Drugmakers opt to mine medical data in lieu of lengthy clinical trials

Big drugmakers Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen have submitted data-mining analyses of electronic medical records to the Food and Drug Administration to help expedite the approval of new or improved medicines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: So far, parsing patient data instead of carrying out long clinical trials has cut costs and shortened drug-development times for breast cancer, bladder cancer and leukemia drugs.

Details: Companies take hospital and doctor files for cases where patients already took a drug during routine care and then analyze the changes in health data to test side effects.

Yes, but: Relying on health records, which often contain errors, doesn't produce the same level of scientific scrutiny as clinical trials.

Go deeper: Drug makers are eating up a vast amount of the health care industry's profits