PURPOSE: In 2005, new European legislation authorised Regulatory Agencies to require drug companies to submit a risk management plan (RMP) comprising detailed commitments for post-marketing pharmacovigilance. The aim of the study is to describe the characteristics of RMP for 15 drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and their impact on post-marketing safety issues. METHODS: Of the 90 new Chemical Entities approved through a centralised procedure by the EMA during 2006 and 2007, 15 of them were selected and their safety aspects and relative RMPs analysed. All post-marketing communications released for safety reasons related to these drugs were also considered. RESULTS: A total of 157 safety specifications were established for the drugs assessed. Risk minimisation activities were foreseen for 5 drugs as training activities. Post-marketing safety issues emerged for 12 of them, leading to 39 type II variations in Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC). Nearly half of such variations, 19 (49%), concerned safety aspects not envisaged by the RMPs. Besides this, 9 Safety Communications were published for 6 out of 15 drugs assessed. CONCLUSION: The present study reveals several critical points on the way RMPs have been implemented. Several activities proposed by the RMPs do not appear to be adequate in dealing with the potential risks of drugs. Poor communication of risk to practitioners and to the public, and above all limited transparency for the total assessment of risk, seem to transform RMPs into a tool to reassure the public when inadequately evaluated drugs are granted premature marketing authorisation.
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