Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to modernize FDA’s 510(k) clearance pathway, which was adopted more than 40 years ago. The FDA stated that the plans are aimed at continuing to ensure that new and existing devices meet their standard for safety and effectiveness as technology rapidly advances.
The FDA announcement reflects its focus on innovation by driving innovators toward reliance on more modern predicate devices. Under the current framework, medical device manufacturers are required to submit a premarket notification to demonstrate that the low- to moderate-risk device to be marketed is safe and effective by proving substantial equivalence to a legally marketed device (“predicate device”) that is not subject to Premarket Approval. According to the announcement, nearly 20 percent of current 510(k)s are cleared based on a predicate that’s more than 10 years old, contrary to the Agency’s belief that newer devices should be compared to the benefits and risks of more modern technology.
The Agency announced that it is considering, in the next few months, publishing on CDRH’s website those devices that have been cleared on the basis of demonstrated substantial equivalence of predicate devices that are more than 10 years old. The Agency also said that they are developing proposals to potentially subset certain older predicates and promote the use of more modern predicates. Following up on the announcement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., stated,
As devices become increasingly complex, it’s important that they meet the latest standards for cybersecurity, interoperability, biocompatibility and usability engineering. The FDA has recently advanced policies on these issues, and we know that older predicates often don’t meet our more recent expectations.
Even though the announcement lacks details on these proposals, according to the announcement, in early 2019, the FDA intends to finalize guidance establishing an alternative 510(k) pathway that allows manufacturers of certain well understood device types to rely on objective safety and performance criteria to demonstrate substantial equivalence as a way to make it more efficient to adopt modern criteria as the basis for the predicates that are used to support new products.