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Keywords:

  • Drug safety;
  • immunosuppressants;
  • immunosuppression;
  • organ transplantation;
  • risk evaluation and mitigation strategies

Recent adverse experience with a number of medications after their approval, including rofecoxib, erythropoietin and rosiglitazone, has led to an increased focus on safety in drug development in the postmarketing setting. The result was implementation of new measures to address perceived deficits in the system for drug approval and postmarketing safety. The resulting legislation introduced risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS) and postmarketing requirements (PMRs). Although these initiatives have the potential to improve patient outcomes, many healthcare practitioners are not yet familiar with REMS or PMRs or may have misconceptions regarding their goals and limitations. REMS is a program to manage known or potential serious risks associated with pharmaceutical products and is designed to ensure that the benefits of using a particular product outweigh the risks. Although the concepts underlying REMS and PMRs are not novel, the FDA now has legal authority to enforce such measures as part of the drug approval process. This article outlines the objectives and limitations of REMS and PMRs, with a focus on how these regulatory measures may impact the clinical specialty of transplantation. The article also briefly describes efforts to address aspects of drug safety less amenable to management through REMS and PMRs.