Blog Tag: Regulatory Approval
FDA Announces Innovation Challenge for Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a medical device innovation challenge to help address opioid abuse and misuse. With the FDA Innovation Challenge: Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder, the FDA intends to encourage development of medical devices that will help to combat the ongoing opioid crisis.
According to the announcement, diagnostic and therapeutic devices at any stage of development are eligible for submission to the Challenge. The FDA also indicates that currently marketed devices may be submitted if developers are interested in demonstrating that their device has an improved benefit-risk profile as compared to opioids in the management of pain. Non-limiting examples of suitable medical devices provided by the FDA include diagnostic devices that identify patients at increased risk for addiction, opioid-sparing or opioid-replacement therapies for acute or chronic pain, and devices that monitor the use and prevent diversion of prescription opioids.
According to the announcement, Challenge submissions should describe:
- The novelty of the medical device/concept,
- The development plan for the medical device,
- The development team, and
- The anticipated benefit of the device used by patients and the impact on public health as compared to other available alternatives.
The FDA has indicated that they will work directly with selected applicants during a collaboration phase to accelerate the development and review of new devices, similar to the process under the existing Breakthrough Devices Program. The announcement also reports that selected devices will also be granted Breakthrough Device designation without requiring a separate application. Challenge applications will be accepted through September 30, 2018. The FDA will be hosting a webinar on July 25, 2018 to provide further information.
FDA Unveils Update to Software Precertification Program
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated its software Precertification Program. A working program was originally rolled out in April 2018, but the program was updated in response to requested public input. The FDA expects to roll out a finalized version of the program by December 2018 and to have a pilot test available in 2019.
With the precertification program, the FDA hopes to streamline the certification of “mobile apps” and other software that is used to “treat, diagnose, cure, mitigate, or prevent disease or other conditions,” or so-called software as a medical device (SaMD), according to the updated program description. While software in a medical device (SiMD) is not currently part of the program, the FDA hopes to include SiMD and software that is an accessory to hardware in the future. The program will allow certain organizations that can demonstrate a “culture of quality and organizational excellence” to streamline their oversight of SaMD.
The update clarifies that not all software is subject to regulatory review even if it has some connection to the medical industry. In particular, the update notes that non-device software is exempt, such as software that is intended for (1) for administrative support, (2) for maintaining or encouraging a healthy lifestyle, (3) to serve as electronic patient records, (4) for transferring, storing, converting formats, or for displaying data, or (5) to provide certain limited clinical decision support.
According to the update, organizations “of all sizes” can qualify. The FDA makes clear that startups and smaller companies can apply and receive precertification. Two levels of precertification exist. Level 1 precertification allows an organization to develop and market “lower risk” software without review while also streamlining review of higher risk software. This level would be awarded to an organization that demonstrates excellence in product development but may have a “limited track record” in “developing, delivering, and maintaining” products in the healthcare market. Level 2 precertification allows “lower and moderate risk” software to be developed and marketed without review and allowing streamlined review of other software. This level is awarded to those organizations with a track record in demonstrating high quality software products.
In determining what amount of review is required for “lower risk” and “moderate risk” SaMD, the FDA looks at (1) the risk category of the product, (2) the level of precertification of the organization, and (3) the extent of the changes the software relative to an existing device. Under either level of precertification, “minor changes” require no review by the FDA.
The FDA is looking to update additional aspects of the precertification program, including how it relates to substantially equivalent device review. The FDA is currently requesting comments on the program.
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.
European Commission Proposes Stronger Cooperation for Health Technology Assessment
On January 31, 2018, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal with the aim of strengthening EU cooperation among Member States when conducting a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of new medicines and certain new medical devices. The European Commission Fact Sheet explains that HTA is a procedure for assessing the added value of new medicines and medical devices, for example, assessing whether a new scanner will lead to a better diagnosis or whether a new surgery will improve the patient’s treatment.
BEUC, the European Consumer Organization, explained in a press release that at the moment, around 50 national and regional HTA authorities provide Member States with clinical data, however, work carried out by one authority is often replicated by another, leading to inefficiency in EU health systems.
The Commission’s proposal establishes four areas of joint work between Member States at EU-level:
- Joint clinical assessments focusing on the most innovative health technologies with the most potential impact for patients;
- Joint scientific consultations, or “early dialogue,” whereby developers can seek advice from HTA authorities;
- Identification of emerging health technologies, commonly referred to as ‘horizon scanning’, to identify promising technologies early; and
- Voluntary cooperation on other areas.
In a press release, the Commission added that “manufacturers will no longer have to adapt to different national procedures.” Not all work will be done jointly, the Commission’s press release indicates that individual EU countries will continue to be responsible for assessing non-clinical (e.g. economic, social, ethical) aspects of health technology, and making decisions on pricing and reimbursement. Thus, device manufacturers will still need to work with each Member State to determine pricing and reimbursement.
The Commission’s Q&A on the proposal explains that the joint clinical assessments will not affect market approval as they will only occur after the medical devices have obtained a CE mark. The Q&A also notes that HTA does not interfere with the conformity assessments of medical devices.
The Commission asserted in the Q&A that those benefiting from cooperation would include:
- Patients, who may benefit from a faster uptake of promising innovative technologies;
- Member States, whose national authorities will be able to pool their expertise and avoid duplication of efforts on clinical assessments, making better use of human and financial resources; and
- Industry, including SMEs, who will benefit from clearer rules and greater predictability for their business planning, and cost savings.
In a statement to EURACTIV.com, Yannis Natsis, Policy Manager for the European Public Health Association, cautioned:
A European approach must improve on the current system and deliver meaningful innovation and affordable treatments. There must not be the slightest doubt that cooperation would weaken it or make the assessments less rigorous.
A timeline proposed by the Commission indicates that the proposal could be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in 2019, become applicable three years later, and then have a further three-year transitional period to allow for Member States to phase-in the new system. The Q&A provides an example of a phase-in, suggesting the system could perform 10 to 15 joint clinical assessments in the first year of operation and reach around 65 assessments towards the end of the transitional period.
FDA Exempts Numerous Medical Devices from 510(k) Premarket Notification Requirements
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Notice on July 11, 2017, exempting 1,003 Class II medical devices from premarket notification requirements under Section 510(k). The Notice indicates that anyone with pending 510(k) submissions for devices that are now exempt “should withdraw their submissions.”
According to the Notice, the exemptions from the 510(k) requirements do not apply to other statutory or regulatory requirements. Further, the Notice indicates there are limitations on some of the exemptions. Table 1 in the Notice lists exempt devices that are subject to general limitations of certain sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Table 2 lists exempt devices subject to those general limitations and that must comply with partial exemption limitations as indicated in the table. Table 3 lists exempt devices classified as “radioallergosorbent (RAST) immunological test systems” but which are only a subset of all devices in that classification.
The FDA claims the exemptions “will decrease regulatory burdens on the medical device industry and will eliminate private costs and expenditures required to comply with certain Federal regulations.” Further, the Notice states, “regulated industry will no longer have to invest time and resources in premarket notifications, including preparation of documents and data for submission to FDA, payment of user fees associated with 510(k) submissions, and responding to questions and requests for additional information from FDA during 510(k) review.”
The Notice was published in accordance with procedures established by the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law December 13, 2016. According to the Notice, the 21st Century Cures Act requires the FDA to publish a list of each type of exempt class II device within 90 days after enactment of the Act and at least once every 5 years thereafter. The Notice reflects the FDA’s final determination regarding a proposed list of devices for exemption issued earlier this year. The relevant codified language for each listed device will be amended by the FDA in a “future action.”
Confirm Rx: Abbott Receives CE Mark for Smartphone Compatible ICM
Abbott recently announced the CE Mark and first use of what it claims is “the world’s first smartphone compatible” insertable cardiac monitor (ICM), as reported by a press release dated May 8, 2017.
According to the press release, Abbott produces the Confirm RxTM ICM, which is marketed as the slimmest ICM available. Pictured on the right, Abbott states that the Confirm RxTM is designed to continuously monitor a patient’s heart rhythm and proactively transmit information via the myMerlinTM mobile app, thereby allowing physicians to follow their patients remotely and accurately diagnose arrhythmias. As noted on the Confirm RxTM webpage, the ICM is placed by a physician under local anesthesia by making a small incision in the pectoral region, inserting the ICM under the skin using an insertion tool, and then closing the incision. “Patients can record symptoms directly on their smartphone without the need for a bedside transmitter or separate activator,” said Georg Nölker, M.D. in prepared remarks. Dr. Nölker was one of the first physicians to implant the Confirm Rx ICM after it received CE Mark approval.
According to Abbott, the myMerlinTM mobile app makes it easy for patients to stay connected to their physicians. A listing of the product features from the Confirm RxTM product website includes:
- Transmit nightly data reports automatically simply by being in range of the smartphone;
- Manually record patient symptoms on their own smartphone and specify events such as fainting or if they experience a fast heart rate;
- Confirm patient data was transmitted to their physician;
- Automatic alerts when they have missed a scheduled transmission;
- Offers secure transmission of patient data.
Mark D. Carlson, M.D., chief medical officer of Abbott’s cardiac arrhythmias and neuromodulation businesses, views these results as a step forward in ICM technology, stating:
Incorporating wireless technology directly into our devices enhances the quality of remote monitoring and patient compliance…The Confirm Rx ICM addresses a broad range of indications, such as syncope, palpitations and atrial fibrillation. The technology has been designed with robust data privacy and security measures to ensure peace of mind for both patients and providers.
Dr. Christopher Piorkowski, said to be one of the first physicians to implant the Confirm RxTM ICM, stated:
The Confirm Rx ICM will be particularly useful in monitoring for atrial fibrillation in my patients with paroxysmal AF, following AF ablation and with stroke of an unknown cause. It allows an objective way to quantify AF events to guide treatment decisions. The smartphone compatibility engages patients and allows better compliance to remote monitoring through a simple and intuitive user interface. This allows clinic staff to reduce follow-up burden and focus on reviewing transmitted data for AF.
As reported by the press release, the Confirm RxTM ICM is available in select European countries, with full European release expected during the second quarter of 2017. It further states that the device is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
FDA Issues Proposed Guidance for Changes to Medical Device Software
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed guidance on August 8, 2016, regarding software changes to medical devices. The proposed guidance relates to requirements for submitting medical device software changes to the FDA for approval. The final document will provide assistance to medical device companies and the FDA for determining when changes to software or firmware for a medical device require FDA clearance. The medical devices covered include 510(k)-cleared devices and preamendments devices subject to 510(k).
The FDA’s proposed guidance explains that premarket notifications are generally submitted for commercially-distributed medical devices undergoing significant changes in design. Such changes include modifications that “could significantly affect the safety or effectiveness of the device” or a “major change or modification in the intended use of the device.” The proposed guidance relates to software changes and is an update to the original guidance issued in 1997 regarding changes to existing devices.
The “software” subject to the proposed guidance is defined as “electronic instructions used to control the actions or output of a medical device, to provide input to or output from a medical device, or to provide the actions of a medical device.” This includes software embedded in a device, software that is an accessory to another device, and “software that is intended to be used for one or more medical purposes that performs these purposes without being part of a hardware medical device.”
The FDA provides a flow chart for assisting with the determination, see below. Issues addressed in the determination include changes related to: strengthening cyber security; meeting specifications of the most recently cleared device; introducing or affecting hazardous situations; creating new risk control measures; and affecting clinical functionality or intended use of the device. Additional factors to consider beyond those in the flow chart and some examples of modifications are provided in the draft guidance as well.
The proposed guidance notes that in some cases a new 510(k) is not necessary, and that existing Quality System (QS) requirements may suffice. Such QS requirements mandate, among other things, that the manufacturer maintains records, for production upon request, regarding such changes and the processes used to determine the changed device meet the design specifications. Further, the proposed guidance does not apply to software for which the FDA has previously said it will not enforce compliance, including some mobile apps used with medical devices.
Some observers think the proposed guidance will help with improving cybersecurity of connected medical devices. The public may provide comments to the FDA on the proposed guidance until November 7, 2016: comments may be submitted electronically here.
FDA Approves Expanded Use of Medtronic’s CoreValve System; Also Receives Regulatory Approval in Japan
This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of Medtronic’s CoreValve system for “valve-in-valve” (VIV) replacement. According to the FDA press release, this represents the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement device approved for use in replacing a previously implanted artificial valve. The press release explained the need for replacing artificial valves over time:
Some patients whose own aortic valve failed to work properly in the past undergo open-heart surgery to replace the faulty valve with an artificial heart valve. Over time, artificial valves that are made of animal tissue wear out—becoming narrowed, leaky or both—and may need to be replaced again.
The press release notes that prior to this approval, the only option for patients needing to replace an artificial aortic valve was open heart surgery; however, some such patients may not be qualified candidates for open heart surgery. The press release also stated that the CoreValve system can now provide a less invasive alternative for replacing artificial valves, thereby opening the option of subsequent valve replacements to a new category of patients. Medtronic provided data on the CoreValve Expanded Use Study Failed Bioprosthetic Surgical Valve on its website.
According to press releases, the CoreValve system also just received regulatory approval in Japan, in addition to previous regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe.
Shifts in the Regulatory Landscape
Regulatory approval of medical devices is a significant consideration for any innovator or manufacturer of medical technologies. The U.S. FDA’s regulatory approval processes, including, for example, 510(k) clearances and PMA approvals, are notoriously stringent. So stringent is the U.S. regulatory procedure that many medical device companies opt to enter the regulatory process elsewhere before entering the U.S. Europe, with its CE mark, which is commonly felt to be a simpler and more straightforward regulatory process, is a common choice. PR-BG.com reports that, due to several factors, of which regulatory complexity is one of the most significant, only 4% of manufacturers approach the U.S. first for regulatory submission. Conversely, due to the perceived regulatory simplicity in Europe, a staggering 80% of manufacturers approach the European Union first for regulatory submission. Because of barriers to entry in the U.S., such as high regulatory uncertainty, high cost of required clinical trials, long time-to-market, and complexity of the FDA’s approval process, many manufacturers never ultimately approach the U.S. for regulatory approval.
According to PR-BG, the FDA is trying to simplify the U.S. regulatory procedure and improve the perception thereof. As a positive result of the FDA’s efforts, backlogs and decision times have been reduced and approval rates have increased.
While the FDA attempts to make its regulatory process easier to navigate, the Irish Times reports that the EU is now attempting to tighten its medical device regulations. Proposed changes to the regulation of medical devices in the EU are currently being considered and have just come through the European Parliament. Such beefed-up regulations could very well increase the difficulty and cost of getting products from bench to the European bedside. Bill Doherty, Vice President of Cook Medical’s Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions states that Europe is an attractive development center for medical device companies, such as Cook, because in Europe companies can get their products to market about three years sooner than in the U.S. and Japan. Were the proposed regulations to become law, the European regulatory timeline and costs would likely both increase, thereby giving medical device companies serious cause to consider pulling development and manufacturing out of Europe. According to Doherty, the proposed laws would ultimately stifle Cook’s and other manufacturers’ innovation plans.
As the EU considers making its regulatory process more stringent and the FDA looks to make its regulatory process more accessible, we may begin to see initial filings occurring with increasing frequency in the U.S. and a corresponding decreasing frequency in Europe. However, as the U.S. is likely to remain relatively strict in its procedures (despite its efforts to ease the approval procedure), we may ultimately see medical device manufacturers moving to other, potentially more favorable, jurisdictions such as parts of Asia and South America. Only time will tell.