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Drug Development

FDA gives its nod to 53 new drugs in 2020

Despite a pandemic, a steady flow of new molecular entities reached the market last year

by Lisa M. Jarvis
January 4, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 2


The US Food and Drug Administration kept up a blistering pace of new drug approvals last year, all while navigating the urgent evaluation of tests, drugs, and vaccines in development for COVID-19. The agency approved 53 new products in 2020, the second-highest number in more than 20 years.

Of those new molecular entities, 35 were small molecules—which at 66% of the total approvals continue to be a critical component of the drug pipeline. Among the notable approvals: two treatments for Ebola virus, the first fully-approved antiviral for COVID-19, the first oral treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, and the first treatment for children with a rare genetic disease that causes them to develop tumors on their nerves. The year also brought 10 new cancer treatments, including another 2 antibody-drug conjugates, a class that has become an increasingly permanent fixture in the new drug list.

Steady flow
In 2020, the FDA approved 53 new drugs, a healthy crop that arrived despite the pressures of the pandemic.
Click here or the image below to view the full interactive table.
C&EN lists 2020's new drug approvals.


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