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On May 10, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration issued highly anticipated final guidance that gives drug-makers more clarity on how to demonstrate that a proposed biosimilar product meets the statutory interchangeability standard under the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act or the Act). According to the Act, an interchangeable biosimilar may be substituted for the original biological product without the involvement of a prescriber, similar to the way generic drugs are routinely substituted for brand name drugs at the pharmacy level. The Final Guidance, entitled “Considerations in Demonstrating Interchangeability with a Reference Product,” is shorter than the draft version released over two years ago, in response to industry feedback, but generally tracks the original policy positions proposed in the draft, with a few notable exceptions summarized below.
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FDA's Comprehensive Regenerative Medicine Policy Framework is nearing the halfway mark of the “grace period” the Agency extended for certain regenerative medicine product developers to come into compliance by obtaining investigational new drug applications (INDs) and working towards premarket approval of their products.
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As predicted by our colleagues earlier this month, outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a comprehensive press release setting forth actions for possible FDA regulation of CBD products. FDA also reinforced its position that introducing CBD or THC infused products into interstate commerce, including marketing CBD and THC dietary supplements, continues to be illegal.  In furtherance of this position, FDA released three warning letters to businesses marketing CBD products for using “egregious and unfounded claims aimed at vulnerable populations.”
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FDA Silent on CBD Regulation at Cosmetics Conference, But Legislation May Be Imminent

April 1, 2019 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli, Aaron Josephson

Regulation of cannabidiol (CBD) was a hot topic on Day 1 of ACI’s Cosmetics & Personal Care Products conference on March 28, 2019. Attendees asked many questions about legitimate uses of and claims for CBD, but definite answers were in short supply due to the current confusion over the legality of CBD as a product itself or other products, such as food or cosmetics, with CBD added.

When asked a direct question about FDA’s perspective on and plans for CBD regulation, Dr. Linda Katz, Director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors and Acting Chief Medical Officer for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, did not comment directly but referred all attendees to an upcoming public meeting on CBD in April 2019. It is possible that the public meeting could be the start of an FDA rulemaking process for CBD regulations. Even though Dr. Katz was unable to comment, there was still plenty of CDB advice to share with industry attendees.
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Device Modernization Series: In Vitro Clinical Tests

March 7, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our first two Device Modernization series posts, we discussed FDA’s 510(k) modernization efforts and the proposed De Novo regulation. FDA has also had a heavy hand in legislative efforts to retool oversight of laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and other in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). The proposed approach would create an entirely new category of medical product separate from medical devices known as in vitro clinical tests (IVCTs).
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On March 5, 2019, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced his resignation. The physician and venture capitalist, ​for whom this was ​a second stint at the FDA, intends to leave the agency in about a month to spend more time with his family. In this post, Aaron Josephson reflects on Dr. Gottlieb's time leading the FDA and its future after his departure.
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Device Modernization Series: FDA’s Proposed De Novo Regulation

February 28, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our first Device Modernization series post, we discussed how FDA is proposing to modernize the 510(k) review program. FDA also recently issued a proposed regulation for the De Novo program and linked that proposed regulation to 510(k) modernization efforts as part of a broader strategy to improve device safety.

The proposed De Novo regulation, issued December 5, 2018, would codify into regulation many of the policy and programmatic features of the De Novo program that are currently outlined in guidance documents. Because guidance is nonbinding, FDA is seeking through the proposed regulation to provide structure, clarity, and transparency to the De Novo process in a way that would be binding on De Novo submitters.
Do you manufacture, import, or market personal hygiene and wellness devices sold in drugstores? If so, you may be focused on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance, but may not have considered the requirements of another Federal regulatory agency: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Manufacturing, importing, and/or marketing non-compliant personal hygiene, wellness and similar devices may violate the FCC’s rules.
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Device Modernization Series: FDA’s Changes to the 510(k) Program

February 21, 2019 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

In our “FDA 2018 Year in Review (and a Few Thoughts on 2019)” post and recent webinar, we observed that we may look back at 2018 as the beginning of the end for the 510(k) program as it has existed since the 1976 Medical Device Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The 510(k) pathway has been scrutinized for years and among the most damning criticisms leveled against it is that it is a loophole that lets unsafe products on the market by allowing manufacturers to, in most cases, avoid clinical testing. As long as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act allows for 510(k)s, though, FDA has to make the review program work, so the agency is looking for ways to improve the safety of 510(k)-cleared devices rather than burying its head in the sand.
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45 States Now Have Biosimilar Substitution Laws

February 11, 2019 | Blog | By Sarah Beth Kuyers

Forty-five states and Puerto Rico have now enacted laws that permit or require pharmacists to dispense an interchangeable biological product in certain situations. The remaining states that have not yet passed legislation on the topic are: Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia. We have been tracking and summarizing these laws over the past three years, and you can find our updated chart... 
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On January 9, 2019, AdvaMed announced revisions to its Code of Ethics.  As any medical product business knows, compliance with the AdvaMed Code of Ethics (the “Code”) is essential.  While the Code is voluntary, many states require medical product manufacturers and companies to adopt compliance programs consistent with the Code.  The amendments will be effective January 1, 2020.
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How Much Control Do Device Manufacturers Have Over Servicing?

January 23, 2019 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli

In December, my colleague Aaron Josephson and I described our observations after attending FDA’s public workshop on Medical Device Servicing and Remanufacturing Activities. In this post, I want to share some additional thoughts about medical device servicing based on conversations I had with other workshop attendees about changing the device distribution and ownership paradigm to avoid issues about third party servicing and remanufacturing. This is a prominent consideration for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) given FDA’s evident reluctance to regulate third-party servicers directly, meaning that there are no quality or safety requirements for third party repairs. Below, I describe why making OEM servicing mandatory is essentially impossible under the typical model of device sales to and ownership by health care professionals and institutions, as well as some alternative commercial models that might allow OEMs to cut third-party servicers out of the picture.
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Over the last few weeks, we published a number of posts examining important developments and trends in 2018 as well as what we expect to see in 2019. Our posts cover a range of topics, including enforcement and litigation, HIPAA and the FDA. In case you missed one, below are links to all of our Year In Review posts.
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FDA 2018 Year in Review (and a Few Thoughts on 2019)

December 27, 2018 | Blog | By Joanne Hawana, Bethany Hills, Aaron Josephson, Benjamin Zegarelli

As 2019 quickly approaches, we would like to take a few moments to reflect on the past year of Food and Drug Administration activities and certain big ticket items that made news in 2018. As the Magic 8-Ball would say: “signs point to yes” that everything on the list below will continue to be major areas of focus for both FDA and the U.S. Congress next year and into the foreseeable future.
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Observations from FDA’s Public Workshop on Medical Device Servicing and Remanufacturing

December 19, 2018 | Blog | By Benjamin Zegarelli, Aaron Josephson

On December 10-11, 2018, FDA hosted a public workshop, Medical Device Servicing and Remanufacturing Activities, as part of its effort to develop a draft guidance that will distinguish servicing activities from remanufacturing. FDA expressed intent to develop a draft guidance on this topic as part of its May 15, 2018 report to Congress on the quality, safety, and effectiveness of medical device servicing. This post provides some observations about areas of agreement among stakeholders and FDA’s perspective on servicing versus remanufacturing.
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Paradigm Shift: Regulating Software as a Medical Device in the U.S.

December 19, 2018 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring the development of a new regulatory approach for software as a medical device (SaMD) that the agency believes will promote innovation while still assuring device safety and effectiveness. SaMD is software used for a medical purpose that is not part of a hardware medical device. The new approach is known familiarly as Pre-Cert and relies on a company being certified by FDA as having a culture of quality and organizational excellence.
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In his typical forceful style on December 11, 2018, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced several big pieces of policy news affecting the nascent biosimilar market. The Commissioner’s statement broadly relates to FDA’s “actions to advance the biosimilars policy framework” and is a well-articulated hodgepodge of FDA regulatory, drug pricing, industry competition, and patent thicket complaints, which Dr. Gottlieb is becoming famous for in his written and oral presentations. 
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Medical Products & FDA: What to Watch for in 2019

December 4, 2018 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

Major legislation impacting FDA often accompanies user fee reauthorizations every 5 years. However, Congress has acted to address public health issues between user fee cycles. FDA regulates 20¢ of every U.S. consumer dollar spent on products ranging from heart valves to insulin to breakfast cereal, so there’s always something Congress can do in the realm of FDA’s statutory authorities. Many FDA-related bills are often bipartisan, too, which suggests action regardless of which party is in power. Here are a few key medical product issues we’ll be tracking in 2019.
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On November 26, 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and device center director Jeff Shuren issued a statement outlining a plan to modernize the 510(k) premarket review program to bolster medical device safety. The 510(k) program relies on a device being compared to a legally marketed predicate device; i.e., a similar device that was already determined to be legally marketable.
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Fall 2018 Agency Rule List & FDA Device Center Guidance Priorities

October 24, 2018 | Blog | By Aaron Josephson

On October 17th, the Administration released its semiannual forecast of the rules that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be churning out over the next year. The list includes nearly 200 rules, 23 of which are already posted on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) dashboard. The bulk of the rules on the Agency Rule List for Fall are under the purview of CMS or the FDA (63 and 77 rules, respectively). Also, earlier in October, FDA’s device center released a list of draft and final guidance documents it plans to publish in FY 2019. Many of these rules or guidance documents touch on issues top of mind and we expect that the administration will be moving forward with many of these priorities in the coming months. 
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