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Current Regulatory Perspectives on Genotoxicity Testing for Botanical Drug Product Development in US


Genotoxicity testing is an important part of preclinical safety assessment of new drugs and is required prior to Phase I/II clinical trials. It is designed to detect genetic damage such as gene mutations and chromosomal aberration, which may be reflected in tumorigenic or heritable mutation potential of the drug. Botanical new drugs in the U.S. are entitled to a waiver for preclinical pharmacology/toxicology studies, including genotoxicity testing, in support of an initial clinical trial under IND, contingent on previous human experience. Recently, ethical concerns have been raised over conducting Phase I/II clinical trials of new drugs with positive genotoxicity findings in healthy volunteers. Although the relevance of this issue to patients, as opposed to healthy volunteers, depends on the drug’s indication, duration of treatment, and specific findings related to the assays, the regulatory view is to avoid exposing patients to genotoxic compounds unnecessarily in clinical trials. This philosophy may impact on herbal supplement marketing and botanical drug development, in that genotoxicity data are often lacking while consumers are exposed to the herbal supplement, or healthy volunteers are tested in an initial Phase I/II clinical trial on the botanical drug. This paper presents results of a survey conducted on genotoxicity data in botanical INDs submitted to the Agency and discusses the significance of this information. The information presented indicates that the sponsors of botanical INDs have increasingly recognized the importance of genotoxicity information and may have prioritized its acquisition in their strategic drug development programs.


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