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Now that the final rule on laboratory developed tests (LDTs) has been available for over a month and the stages of the enforcement discretion phaseout process and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) newly proposed policies for continuing limited enforcement discretion for certain types of LDTs have been thoroughly described and dissected (including by us in our previous post), it’s high time to dig into FDA’s perspectives on the comments it received on the proposed rule. 

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Last month, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (“NASEM”) issued a report discussing the inclusion of pregnant and lactating people in clinical research and the health impacts of inadequate data from research involving this subpopulation. Titled “Advancing Clinical Research with Pregnant and Lactating Persons: Overcoming Real and Perceived Liability Risks,” the report came as a response to Congress calling upon NASEM to examine the real and perceived prevalence of legal liability resulting from including these research subjects in clinical trials. Overall, the report concluded that legal liability for including pregnant and lactating persons in research is very limited, but that perceptions of potential liability and a lack of explicit guidance for including this population safely have created real barriers to their inclusion.  In response, the report provides recommended actions for Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), and the Office of Human Research Protections (“OHRP”) to take to enhance the inclusion of this population in clinical trials, thereby enhancing data around the safety and efficacy of approved drug products for pregnant and lactating persons.  Study sponsors and institutions conducting research should continue to monitor developments in this area, including guidance from FDA.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its final rule on laboratory developed tests (LDTs) in the Federal Register on May 6, marking a watershed moment in the agency’s arduous decade-plus-long journey toward winding down its historical enforcement discretion posture for LDTs. But FDA’s crusade is far from over. It will have much to do to implement the four-year phase-out period described in the final rule and those efforts may be delayed by litigation seeking to enjoin implementation of the rule altogether. While we wait for the litigation shoe to drop, let’s take a look at what the final rule says and the changes FDA made in these highly significant policy decisions since the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published on October 3, 2023 (see our previous posts on the NPRM here and here).

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In vitro diagnostics, or IVDs, have a somewhat unique position among the gamut of products that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees and regulates on behalf of the U.S. public. IVDs are classified as medical devices and include “reagents, instruments, and systems intended for use in diagnosis, including determining the state of health, through the collection, preparation, and examination of specimens taken from the human body.” Unlike human drug and non-IVD device products, which generally must be authorized for a specific medical use prior to commercialization, IVD products may be sold for certain scientific research studies without FDA authorization, but such IVD products may not be sold for clinical diagnostic use. 

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We have been writing about software as a medical device (SaMD) for years, tracking the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) efforts to keep up with the fast-paced development of digital technology, such as launching the Digital Health Center of Excellence, implementing predetermined change control plans, and issuing various digital health guidances on device software functions, clinical decision support software, cybersecurity, and other topics. In anticipation of FDA’s Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning (AI/ML) Medical Devices Workshop in October 2021, we posted a brief history of the agency’s regulatory oversight of software through the traditional medical device regulatory framework established in the 1970s, in which we highlighted the numerous challenges associated with such an approach. But now, with the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning and the proliferation of AI/ML-enabled software throughout the health care industry, FDA is facing enormous challenges using an outdated, procrustean regulatory framework to maintain standards of safety and quality for such software devices. It is becoming increasingly clear that innovation in the AI/ML and digital health technology space is advancing rapidly, as FDA Commissioner Rob Califf has emphasized in many recent public appearances, and that the traditional device framework is quickly becoming unworkable for such technologies.

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The American public knows that 2024 is a critical election year, with the next race for the presidency in November expected to be another face-off between President Biden and former President Trump. What the majority may not know quite as well, however, is how many important regulatory programs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tasked itself with completing sometime this year. Given the centrality of much of FDA’s work to the average American consumer and all users of health care services, not to mention the various business stakeholders whose operations can be shaped in part by policy decisions executed by the agency, this blog post will preview upcoming milestones that FDA is expected to meet in 2024.

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After a long wait, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published a Final Rule to harmonize the Quality System Regulation (QSR) codified at 21 C.F.R. Part 820 with the internationally accepted standard for medical device quality management systems established by the International Organization for Standardization, the 2016 edition of ISO 13485, “Medical devices - Quality management systems - Requirements for regulatory purposes” (known as “ISO 13485:2016”). We previously mentioned back in January 2021 that FDA had plans to initiate notice-and-comment rulemaking to describe the harmonization process sometime in 2021, plans that the agency had been discussing for years prior. FDA finally published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the harmonization in February 2022 and, then, following the agency’s consideration of stakeholders’ submitted comments, it issued the Final Rule on February 2, 2024.

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A year has passed since Congress enacted the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA) and enhanced the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate the cosmetics industry. Although MoCRA implementation efforts steadily increased throughout the calendar year, as the December 29, 2023 compliance date for most MoCRA provisions approached, FDA’s release of information and deployment of new systems for the industry came to a climax. Several recent MoCRA-related developments will influence how cosmetic industry stakeholders, consumers, and even the FDA will approach and navigate the law’s requirements over the next year. In this blog post, we will discuss each of these developments and forecast the law’s future as we move into 2024.

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In 2023, the FDA navigated challenges while achieving significant public health milestones. Member Joanne Hawana and Of Counsel Benjamin Zegarelli highlight key takeaways from the year, addressing multifaceted issues such as CBD regulation, the overhaul of in vitro clinical tests, and the management of manufacturing failures. These pivotal topics underscore the FDA’s proactive approach to evolving healthcare regulations and technological advancements. 

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a proposed rule that would seek to regulate laboratory developed tests (LDTs) as medical devices under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). This rule could reshape the landscape of LDTs and, as expected, has generated substantial attention and feedback from the public, with both supportive and negative comments flooding in. We previously provided a summary of the proposed rule and FDA’s lengthy justification for it here. In this blog post, we will examine some of the key arguments presented in the public comments submitted to Docket FDA-2023-N-2177, as well as public statements published by industry trade associations.

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A new battle is emerging in the fight for health equity, and it’s centered on the humble pulse oximeter. On November 1, 2023, 25 state attorneys general sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding that the agency take urgent action to address pulse oximeter inaccuracies that continue to create health care risks for people of color. The letter comes exactly one year after a public meeting held by the Anesthesiology and Respiratory Therapy Devices Panel of the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee titled “Pulse Oximeter Accuracy and Limitations,” and nearly 21 months after the agency issued a safety communication about pulse oximeter inaccuracies when used on people with dark skin pigmentation (see our previous blog post on pulse oximeter performance here).

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Since the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA) was signed into law, cosmetics companies have spent the past year preparing to comply with its provisions. This includes the facility registration and cosmetic product listing requirements that have were mandated by Congress in the new law. Under MoCRA, the statutory deadline for meeting these foundational requirements is set at December 29, 2023 (one year after MoCRA’s enactment). However, on November 8, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Guidance for Industry: Compliance Policy for Cosmetic Product Facility Registration and Cosmetic Product Listing (Compliance Guidance) and announced that enforcement of facility registration and cosmetic product listing requirements will be delayed six months.

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U.S. health care attorneys, investors, and industry stakeholders are very familiar with the well-worn mantra that prescription drug and medical device companies are not allowed to “market” or “promote” their otherwise-authorized medical products for unapproved uses, also known as “off-label” uses. Over the past decade or so, this strict rule has been the subject of significant litigation and administrative proceedings seeking to disrupt and ultimately soften the government’s position in this long-standing, complex balancing of competing interests. What has been emerging is a more nuanced modern regime in which a drug or device sponsor’s First Amendment rights to speak responsibly and in a non-promotional way about its own products – as well as health care providers’ interests in gaining access to such information directly from the product sponsor to enhance patient care – are gaining greater recognition than ever before.

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The capabilities and sophistication of digital health technologies are constantly expanding, especially with the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Many companies, both existing and start-up, are developing software aimed at health care systems, hospitals, physicians, and lay-users for various levels of use, from assisting diagnoses in a clinical environment to tracking exercise and general health indicators in the home. In particular, a growing number of companies is focusing on the development of digital therapeutics - a class of software devices that deliver and monitor medical interventions for the purpose of treating, managing, or preventing certain diseases or conditions - for use in a patient’s home. With all of the new players jumping into the digital health technology game, we thought it might be useful to provide a brief primer on certain factors to consider when evaluating the potential regulatory requirements for such products.

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It came as a surprise to nobody in health care circles when, on Friday, September 29, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly announced that its much-anticipated proposed rule on laboratory developed tests, or LDTs, had made it through internal regulatory review processes and would be published imminently in the Federal Register. The agency moved very quickly following the White House Office of Management and Budget’s clearance of the rule, which had occurred just two days prior, likely due to the high probability that the federal government was going to shut down on October 1 if Congress did not come to a budget agreement. That shutdown was narrowly averted over the weekend, but had it not been, the last significant publication of the Federal Register would have been on Tuesday, October 3.

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On August 7, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published Draft Guidance for Industry: Registration and Listing of Cosmetic Product Facilities and Products (the Draft Guidance), which provides much-needed clarifications to the registration and listing requirements that will soon apply to cosmetics companies under the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA), for review and public comment. MoCRA was signed into law in December 2022 (see our prior post here) and added significant new provisions on cosmetic products to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Under Section 607 of the amended FD&C Act, facilities that manufacture or process a cosmetic product for distribution in the United States must register with FDA and submit a cosmetic product listing, and the Draft Guidance answers basic and essential questions about who must register and list, what information must be included, and how to submit information to FDA. This post summarizes key takeaways from the Draft Guidance and discusses its implications as the December 29, 2023 initial registration and listing deadline approaches.

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A little over a year after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to be at the forefront of addressing reproductive health concerns. An example of this activity came just a few days after the FDA approved the first nonprescription daily oral contraceptive for marketing in the U.S. when the agency sent a warning letter to Wise Women’s Choice (WISE) in connection with the marketing and sale of its “birth control cream.” Among other things, this warning letter highlights for consumers the importance of confirming that birth control methods are safe, effective, and FDA-approved for their intended uses.

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As we previously reported, Perrigo Company’s subsidiary HRA Pharma submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the summer of 2022 to switch an existing prescription-only progestin birth control pill to over-the-counter (OTC) status. On July 13, 2023, FDA approved the application, based in part on a unanimous advisory committee vote in May that the potential benefits of nonprescription norgestrel daily tablet contraception availability outweighed its potential risks. OTC marketing of the pill will proceed without any innovative regulatory controls or requirements that could have added burdens on consumers’ ability to access the drug at the point of sale. In other words, the agency determined that the Drug Facts Label (DFL), enclosed package leaflet, and other information on the carton (i.e., the Principal Display Panel) provided sufficient mitigation measures for known risks associated with the drug.

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The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent press release marks a continuation in government action against manufacturers of products infused with delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8).  In May 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to companies advertising delta-8 products as treatments for various medical conditions (see our prior post here).  The more recent action came on July 3, 2023, when the FTC and FDA announced that they had jointly issued warning letters to manufacturers marketing products infused with delta-8 that appear similar to Cheetos, Doritos, Nerds, and other snacks and treats popular with children.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new pilot program on June 21, 2023 that gives sponsors of oncology products the opportunity to submit validation and performance data for laboratory developed tests (LDTs) intended to support patient selection for such drugs. Although the pilot is limited to only nine participants, it is unclear based on the requirements of the program whether it will generate sufficient interest among oncology product sponsors to meet the objectives that the agency has established for it.

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