FDA approval is a major milestone for a new medicine. It takes ten to fifteen years of extensive research to get there – and only a handful ever make it to patients.
But progress doesn’t stop there. Important knowledge is gained from doctors, researchers and patients about a medicine even after it’s been approved. As our understanding of the disease grows, and we learn more about how a treatment impacts patients over the longer term, a new medicine often will go on to do more for patients than initially expected.
We learn about how to use it in combinations with other medicines, what stage to give it to patients, and how it can help with other diseases. The path of progress is step-wise and winding, not direct and dramatic; as knowledge accumulates, it leads to greater gains over time for patients.