Last month the US Food and Drug Administration published a notification submitted by OSI and Genentech bringing in notice about severe cases of liver damage among patients who look cancer drug Tarceva, as part of a post-approval study designed for patients with moderate liver impairment and advanced tumors. According to the notification, one patient died from rapidly progressing liver failure and another died from a liver complication called hepatorenal syndrome. Genentech spokesperson said that the label information will now include a stronger warning about liver damage and fatalities. Erlotinib was approved by the US FDA, after priority review, in November 2004 and later received marketing approval in
In January, Cipla launched the generic copy of Tarceva and was sued by Roche for infringement of patent in the Delhi High Court. High Court is already done with the hearing and verdict will be announced in near future. However, the incident of deaths caused by Tarceva raises an important question about the generic approval of newly approved drugs for which post-approval study is still under progress. Do Indian drug regulators need to have strong guidelines for post-approval study for newly approved drugs, particularly life-threatening diseases before giving marketing approval for generic drugs? At least such initiative will minimize the risk of Vioxx-like debacle.