Showing all posts written by Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson
Bryan is an Associate in the firm's San Francisco office. He completed his undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at Ohio State University and received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2017. Bryan's practice centers on providing exceptional client service in all aspects of patent prosecution, litigation, and IP strategy.
Bryan worked at the firm as a summer associate in 2016 and joined full time in 2017.

China FDA Issues Guidance on 3D Printed Medical Devices

More than two and a half years after the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) formally approved its first three-dimensional (3D) printed medical device for mass production, a hip implant co-developed by Peking University’s Third Hospital and AK Medical, the agency has issued a draft guidance on the regulatory requirements for approval of 3D printed devices.  The new guidance, titled “Guidelines for the Technical Review of Custom Additive Manufacturing Medical Device Registration,” proposes that “[t]he process of production and verification of custom-built additive-produced medical devices should, in particular, control the testing of printing equipment, processes, post-processing, raw materials and final products, as well as cleaning, packaging and sterilization.”

Although the CFDA is open to consultation on the guidance until March 30, the existing draft would require 3D device applicants to provide at least (1) a product name according to its scope and design for classification and standardization purposes; (2) a description of the product including the chemical composition of each component; (3) clinically relevant model specifications; (4) the scope of the application and contraindications; (5) the product’s research and development background with a comparison to similar products; and (6) research data on product performance with supplementary material characterization.

This development is in line with increased attention to 3D printing technology by regulatory authorities worldwide.  In December 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its guidance titled “Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices,” which provided the agency’s initial thoughts on 3D printing, including important considerations for design, manufacturing, device testing, and premarket approval.  This initial non-binding document was published as “a type of guidance that serves as a mechanism by which the Agency can share initial thoughts regarding emerging technologies that are likely to be of public health importance,” and identified the significant issues that the FDA was likely to emphasize in future regulations.  Similarly, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) opened consultation on the topic in November 2017.

FDA Announces Plans for Alternative Clearance Pathway

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently announced that the agency plans to publish a draft guidance outlining a voluntary alternative pathway for new, moderate-risk devices for use in patient care.

According to Commissioner Gottlieb, the FDA regulatory processes for medical devices have remained relatively unchanged for over 40 years.  Under a commonly used clearance pathway, device manufacturers are required to submit a Premarket Notification, known as a 510(k).  The 510(k) constitutes a premarketing submission demonstrating substantial equivalence of a new device to a similar, legally marketed “predicate” device.  The FDA explains that the submission allows the FDA to determine whether the device is as safe and effective as an equivalent device already placed into one of the three FDA classification categories.

However, Commissioner Gottlieb believes that “there are an increasing number of cases where this basic framework isn’t well-suited to reflect the innovation that we see today in certain technologies, and how we must evaluate those technologies.” Similarly, he states that the current 510(k) requirements fail “to realize the full potential of the FDA’s consensus standards program, which was established through the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, and will be refined and expanded as a result of provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016.” To address these shortcomings, the FDA plans to offer an alternative pathway for demonstrating substantial equivalence in a 510(k) submission.

Under the new pathway, Commissioner Gottlieb states that manufacturers could obtain clearance without direct comparison testing to a predicate device.  Instead, substantial equivalence could be established by meeting objective safety and performance criteria, including FDA-recognized standards, FDA-developed guidance documents, or a combination of the two. The pathway would only be available for pre-specified categories of mature devices – those for which safety and performance criteria that meet or exceed the performance of existing, legally marketed devices can be identified.

Commissioner Gottlieb believes that this alternative pathway:

[H]olds tremendous promise to further streamline device review for sponsors and FDA and allow new innovations to get to patients more quickly; to allow more advanced technologies to be efficiently incorporated into new devices; and to foster greater confidence in the FDA’s ability to efficiently evaluate safety and benefits of technologies cleared under this pathway – all while maintaining the same gold standard that we apply to existing review processes.

The FDA will release its draft guidance on the new 510(K) pathway in the first quarter of 2018.