The breakthrough therapy designation (BTD) process was created to expedite clinical development timelines for drugs intended to treat serious conditions and preliminary clinical evidence indicates the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies. This analysis demonstrates that BTD is a valuable tool for expediting approval of promising therapies in oncology. By comparing drugs indicated to treat non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) approved with BTD or without BTD between January 2013 and October 2021, BTD drugs reduced the risk of death by a median of 31% and progression by a median of 48%, while drugs never receiving BTD reduced the risk of death and progression by a median of 15% and 41.9%, respectively. These findings show that BTD criteria accurately identify drugs that improve long-term outcomes for patients with cancer and warrant coordinated efforts to ensure timely coverage decisions and access for patients.

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