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  • HPMers to Slated to Speak at FDLI’s Enforcement, Litigation and Compliance Conference

    The 2023 Food and Drug Law Institute’s (“FDLI”) Enforcement, Litigation and Compliance Conference will boast two speakers from Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. (“HPM”), as well as other experts from FDA, DOJ, and the private sector.

    HPM Director Anne Walsh will moderate a panel discussion on “Due Diligence and Mitigating Securities Violation Risks for Emerging Life Science and Novel Food Companies.” Ms. Walsh is a nationally recognized expert on FDA enforcement matters across all sectors and has held numerous leadership positions with FDLI and with the Women’s White Collar Defense Association. HPM Counsel John Claud joined the firm last year after a long career with DOJ and will speak on a panel to discuss “Top Cases in Enforcement and Compliance: Challenges to FDA and Other Federal Agency Authority.”

    The speaker faculty of top FDA regulatory authorities will share critical insights on foreign and domestics inspections, digital health, DOJ’s compliance guidelines, and data privacy, among many other topics. The conference will also include its annual panel discussion with FDA’s Center Compliance Directors. Arun Rao, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch, will deliver the keynote address, and Peter Barton Hutt, Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP, will deliver the Tenth Annual Eric M. Blumberg Memorial Lecture.

    The Enforcement, Litigation and Compliance Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. next week, on December 6-7, 2023.  It is attended by experienced professionals in the fields of regulatory, legal, public relations, marketing, and management who work in the pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic, biologics, and veterinary medicine industries. The conference is also beneficial for consultants in the areas of advertising, public relations, law, and marketing communications.

    Categories: Enforcement

    Are Predetermined Change Control Plans on the road to Global Harmonization?

    In October 2021, FDA and MHRA (United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) jointly developed 10 guiding principles for the development of Good Machine Learning Practice (GMLP) with the goal of promoting “safe, effective, and high-quality medical devices” that are based on Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) technologies.  Guiding Principle 10 focused on monitoring the performance of the models and managing re-training risks.  It stated:

    Deployed models have the capability to be monitored in “real world” use with a focus on maintained or improved safety and performance.  Additionally, when models are periodically or continually trained after deployment, there are appropriate controls in place to manage risks of overfitting, unintended bias, or degradation of the model (for example, dataset drift) that may impact the safety and performance of the model as it is used by the Human-AI team.

    Since that time, FDA issued a draft guidance for predetermined change control plans (PCCPs) for Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) software functions.  See our prior blog post on the topic here.  FDA announced that FDA, Health Canada, and MHRA are jointly publishing guiding principles for PCCPs for AI/ML devices to help stakeholders when developing solutions for these countries. Five guiding principles were identified for PCCPs and relate to being focused, risk-based, evidence-based, transparent, and taking into consideration total product lifecycle management.

    Focused and Bounded

    This guiding principle recommends that the PCCP describe a specific planned change that is consistent with the claimed intended use and intended purpose of the Machine Learning Medical Device (MLMD).  The plan should identify the methods for verifying and validating the change.  If the change does not meet specified performance criteria, it will not be implemented under the PCCP.


    This guiding principle ensures risk management principles are used to evaluate the individual and cumulative changes over the life of the device.


    This guiding principle discusses the generation of evidence for the change.  Data should demonstrate the benefits of the change outweigh the risks and any risk identified are appropriately controlled and mitigated to ensure the device remains safety and effective.  The evidence used to measure the device’s performance should be scientifically and clinically justified, consistent with the level of risk for the proposed change.


    This guiding principle calls for manufacturers to be transparent with users regarding the device performance before and after the implementation of the change.  Considerations include transparency regarding the data used to develop the change, comprehensive testing of the change, characterizing the performance of the device before and after the change, and plans in place for ongoing monitoring of device performance and communication of any unexpected changes in performance.

    Total Product Lifecycle (TPLC)

    This guiding principle reminds manufacturers that PCCPs and MLMD changes should be integrated into the lifecycle management of the device and be part of their existing quality system processes including but not limited to risk management and post market monitoring.

    FDA considers these guiding principles as complimentary to their recent efforts around PCCPs including their proposed draft guidance on PCCPs. However, FDA’s draft guidance included more requirements around data management practices, re-training practices, and update procedures that are not included in these guiding principles.  Perhaps, that is why the Agency believes these guiding principles, although developed specifically for AI/ML devices, could apply to other devices when developing PCCPs.

    A recent review of 510(k) summaries for AI/ML devices show very few have taken advantage of including a PCCPs as companies struggle to apply the recommendations in the draft guidance in a practical manner within their already established design change processes.  For those that have referenced a PCCPs, the 510(k) summaries do include a list of the specific modifications however the explanation of the PCCP itself is vague and high level, simply stating that the modifications will be controlled and implemented in a manner that assures the device is safety and effective, the modification will be analyzed against acceptance criteria which will demonstrate substantial equivalence, and labeling will be provided to the end users to inform them of the changes and characterize the performance. The 510(k) summaries also include details on the planned modification protocols, including an impact assessment to address requirements for data management.  It will be interesting to see how these principals are combined with FDA’s draft guidance in practice and whether this will accelerate the use of PCCPs or increase confusion for industry.

    Categories: Medical Devices

    FDA Stealthily Convenes Multi-Cancer Testing Panel Meeting

    Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, FDA announced with no fanfare that it would be holding a Molecular and Clinical Genetics Panel meeting this Wednesday November 29.  The notice (here) indicates that FDA plans for the panel to “discuss and make recommendations on the design of multi-cancer detection (MCD) in vitro diagnostic devices (tests) as well as potential study designs and study outcomes of interest that could inform the assessment of the probable benefits and risks of MCD screening tests.”  It is well known in the industry that FDA has been skeptical of multi-cancer (sometimes also referred to as pan-cancer) tests.  Thus, it’s not entirely surprising that FDA would seek input from a panel on this topic.

    What is shocking, however, is that the panel meeting was announced on Monday November 13 and FDA only accepted comments until November 15.  Not surprisingly, there were exactly zero comments received prior to November 15.  We cannot recall any other situation where FDA gave stakeholders precisely two days in which to comment.  FDA offers no explanation for either the short advance notice of the meeting or the two-day comment period.  Although comments submitted after November 15 won’t be presented to the panel, FDA says it will still take them “into consideration.”  The docket will remain open through December 29.

    The timing of this meeting has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows, particularly given its relationship to the proposed LDT rule (see our prior posts here, here, and here).  Why is the Agency now in such a rush to understand how MCDs should be validated?  Is it that the Agency is preparing from this question from labs that are currently offering/developing MCDs?  Why are the panelists being given such scant background (a mere 6 pages of substantive information in the executive summary)?   While the topic of MCDs is important, it seems like everyone—regulators, labs, patients—deserve a better process to provide thoughtful, informed feedback on important questions regarding MCDs than an extraordinarily hasty meeting.

    FDA’s haste is even more surprising given that CDRH has convened only 5 other panel meetings so far in all of 2023.  Further, CDRH announced another panel meeting the same day as the MCD panel notice (November 13) and yet another panel meeting was announced on the day after the MCD panel notice (November 14).  Both of these other panel meetings are scheduled to be held in February 2024, which is months later than the November 29 MCD panel.

    The meeting information, including the short agenda and questions, are posted on FDA’s website (here) along with the zoom link.  We hope that interested parties will tune in and file docket comments to make their voices heard both with regard to the process of holding this rushed meeting but also the substance of the topics to be considered.

    Categories: Medical Devices

    Silence Isn’t Golden: Two Executives Convicted in First Criminal Prosecution Under the Consumer Product Safety Act

    Although the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) has been around for over 50 years to “protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products,” it was not until 2008 that the statute was amended to authorize the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) to impose criminal liability against individual directors, officers, or agents of a corporation for violating the CPSA.  See 15 U.S.C.  § 2070.  Now, fifteen years later, on Nov. 17, 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the first-ever conviction of two corporate executives in a criminal prosecution for failure to report a consumer product defect under the CPSA.

    What led to this conviction?  It is a long story that started more than a decade ago.  It involved Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, Hong Kong, Gree Electric Appliances Sales Co. Ltd., and Gree USA Inc. (the “Gree Companies”), an appliance manufacturer and two of its subsidiaries that were involved in the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of dehumidifiers.  According to the government, these companies knew as early as 2012 that their dehumidifiers were defective, in that they could overheat and catch fire.

    The government also alleged that the Gree Companies and some of its executive officers knew of their obligation to report this information to the CPSC in a timely manner, but not only did they fail to report (for at least six months), they willfully continued selling products to avoid losing customer contracts, and  used falsified UL certifications to lie to the public about the safety of the dehumidifiers.

    DOJ’s enforcement against the Gree Companies and its executives occurred in stages.  First, as is more common under the CPSC, the Gree Companies agreed to pay civil penalties for failing to make the required reporting to the CPSC.  At the time, in 2016, the Gree Companies’ settlement for $15.45 million in civil penalties set a new record for CPSC.

    In 2021, DOJ announced that the Gree Companies agreed to plead guilty to one felony count for willfully failing to report consumer product safety information as required by the CPSA.   According to DOJ, the action against the Gree Companies represented the first corporate criminal enforcement action brought under the CPSA.

    Then, earlier this year, in April 2023, Gree USA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the Chinese appliance company, was sentenced to pay a $500,000 criminal fine.  The fine, along with provisions to pay restitution to victims, was part of a $91 million resolution with the three related Gree Companies.

    Gree USA’s Chief Executive Officer, Charley Loh, and the Chief Administrative Officer, Simon Chu, however, did not agree to the plea deal for the corporate entity, and elected to go to trial.

    According to the prosecution, Defendants Chu and Loh:

    • deliberately withheld information about the defective and dangerous dehumidifiers from the retail companies that bought the dehumidifiers; from the insurance companies that paid for damage caused by the fires resulting from the dehumidifiers; and from the CPSC.
    • continued to sell the dehumidifiers to retailers with false certifications that the products met safety standards, including the UL flammability standard;
    • caused a company employee to solicit materials that would falsely portray to an insurance company that the dehumidifiers were safe and not defective; and
    • sent an untimely report to the CPSC that falsely stated that the dehumidifiers were not defective or hazardous.

    The government charged these individuals with conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 371), failure to immediately report required Information to the CPSC (15 U.S.C. §§ 2068(a)(4), 2070), and wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343).  After a brief trial, on Friday Nov. 17, 2023, DOJ announced that both defendants had been convicted of conspiracy and failure to immediately report the defects in the dehumidifiers to CPSC. Both defendants were acquitted of the wire fraud charges.  Per DOJ, this is the first-ever criminal prosecution of individuals for failure to report under the CPSA.  The two defendants face a maximum of five years in federal prison on each of the counts; a sentencing hearing is set for March 11, 2024.

    Although the facts of these criminal enforcement actions are quite extreme and not limited to a mere failure to delay reporting of a product defects, the criminal actions and conviction of corporate officers serve as a reminder and as a warning to companies and corporate officers that CPSC has the tools to aggressively pursue action against those who fail to take consumer product safety seriously and do not follow the law.  Like FDA’s long-touted authority under the Park Doctrine, time will tell whether this recent prosecution will become a trend or whether they will be reserved for only the extreme scenarios.  Regardless, companies would be well-advised to ensure that they have the processes and policies in place so that they can (and will) timely comply with the reporting requirements related to defective consumer products.  Where it concerns the CPSC mum’s certainly not the word!

    FDA Proposes to Ban Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food

    For any of our readers seeking recommendations on which drinks pair well with turkey this Thanksgiving, certain fruit-flavored beverages may be off the table.  Earlier this month, FDA issued a proposed rule that would revoke 21 C.F.R. § 180.30, its interim authorization of the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in in fruit-flavored beverages.

    BVO is a complex mixture of plant-derived triglycerides that have been reacted to contain atoms of the element bromine bonded to the molecules.  As authorized, BVO is used in small amounts as a stabilizer and emulsifier for flavoring oils in fruit-flavored beverages, primarily to keep the citrus flavoring from separating and floating to the top of the beverage during distribution.

    BVO has been used as a flavoring oil stabilizer and emulsifier since the 1920s, and it was generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for this use by FDA.  Fast-forwarding half a century, in 1970, FDA removed BVO from the codified list of GRAS substances due to toxicity concerns at a level of approximately 150 parts per million (ppm) in beverages.  The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association responded by submitting a food additive petition to FDA, requesting approval to use BVO in beverages at a maximum use level of 15 ppm.  Based on the data available at the time and the historical use of BVO in food without an immediate threat to health, FDA determined that there would be an adequate margin of safety for BVO in beverages at the use level of 15 ppm on an interim basis while additional, longer-term safety studies were conducted.  FDA subsequently established an interim food additive regulation, codified at 21 C.F.R. § 180.30, which authorizes the use of BVO as a stabilizer for flavoring oils in an amount not to exceed 15 ppm in the finished fruit-flavored beverage.  Since then, FDA has evaluated new information on BVO’s possible health effects as it became available.

    As described in the preamble to FDA’s proposed rule, recent toxicology studies in cooperation between FDA and the National Institutes of Health have provided “conclusive scientific evidence” for FDA to remove its authorization for BVO.  FDA asserts that the studies demonstrate that BVO consumption has the potential for adverse health effects in humans, including but not limited to thyroid toxicity.  Once the rule is finalized, companies will have one year from the effective date to reformulate, relabel, and deplete their inventory of BVO-containing products.

    Some may wonder what took FDA so long.  Australia, the European Union, Japan, and New Zealand have already banned BVO use in beverages.  Moreover, California recently enacted the California Food Safety Act, prohibiting the manufacturing, selling, delivering, distributing, or holding food that contains BVO, with a $5,000 civil penalty for first violations, as of January 1, 2027.  In addition, New York introduced a similar bill prohibiting certain food additives, including BVO.

    Before any reader starts hoarding certain citrus-flavored beverages, rest assured: apparently safe substitutes for BVO are available and have long been used for the same functions as BVO (e.g., ester gum, locust (carob) bean gum, and sucrose acetate isobutyrate).  Over the past decade, beverage manufacturers have already reformulated their products to replace BVO with these alternatives.

    Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted here until January 17, 2024.

    Going to 11: New Subsections at CDER’s Office of Pharmaceutical Quality Are Important Piece of FDA’s Inspection and Enforcement Strategy

    The word last week was that FDA is re-organizing the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality (OPQ) within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).  It is the latest item on a long list of similar initiatives that have marked 2023.  Those efforts add up to a clear message to industry that FDA is looking beyond CGMP when it evaluates drug makers. The Agency wants to see functional, effective cultures of quality, and expects that C-suites will provide support to quality units.

    CDER Director Patrizia Cavazzoni first announced the upcoming changes at OPQ last week in an email to staff, which then went out to trade media. The restructuring divides OPQ into 11 sub-offices that FDA described as creating “a more streamlined, agile, and flexible organization. . . .” Only within the Federal bureaucracy can a (1) complex restructuring of (2) an office of (3) a Center into (4) eleven sub-units be described as “streamlining.” But to be sure, FDA is going beyond just making 10 louder. The Agency has high expectations of industry’s willingness to invest in and proactively address quality matters.

    The new parts of OPQ reflect that. Of note, the new structure removes any separation between new and generic drug quality review offices. Under the new OPQ, quality is assessed without much concern of the relevant premarket approval process.

    It’s also clear that culture counts. Cavazzoni told staff that the changes at OPQ will strengthen “connections between assessment, inspection, surveillance, research, policy, and administrative operations.” Under this enforcement assessment, quality affects everything. The changes at OPQ will take effect on January 14, 2024.

    FDA is putting time and effort into quality systems because when they are lacking, numerous problems can follow, including drug shortages. The changes at OPQ are the latest in FDA’s expanded 2023 quality efforts. For example, in August, CDER and OPQ initiated the Quality Management Maturity Program (QMM) that aspires to “implement quality management practices that go beyond current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements.” Quality agreements between manufacturers and third-party suppliers are on FDA’s radar, and the Agency has shown a willingness to delay approvals in the face of quality concerns. And we are seeing more and more warning letters that cite entire quality units for lacking qualifications and failing to execute their responsibilities.

    FDA is putting resources into evaluating quality units across all types of manufacturing and is on the lookout for failures of quality cultures. We’ll almost certainly hear more about this as the Agency cements its organizational changes in 2024. Under this scrutiny, quality units are no places for free-form jazz odysseys.

    HP&M Recognized by Best Law Firms® as National Tier 1 – FDA Law and Regional Washington, DC Tier 1 – FDA Law (2024 Edition)

    Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. (“HP&M”) is proud to announce the firm has been selected to the 2024 edition of Best Law Firms.  Firms included in the 2024 Best Law Firms ranking are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.

    To be considered for this milestone achievement, at least one lawyer in the law firm must be recognized in the 2024 edition of Best Lawyers.  HP&M is proud that we have 14 lawyers recognized for their outstanding support of our clients.

    In 2024, eight of the 14 are new additions.  Those recognized for their outstanding legal work include:  Paul Hyman, Ricardo Carvajal, Robert Dormer, Douglas Farquhar, Jeffrey Gibbs, Kurt Karst, Josephine Torrente (new 2024), Michelle Butler (new 2024), Sara Koblitz (new 2024), Allyson Mullen (new 2024), Anne Walsh (new 2024), McKenzie Cato (new 2024), Kalie Richardson (new 2024), and James Valentine (new 2024).

    “The recognition of the professional excellence of our firm and so many of our lawyers is a great source of pride to all of us at HP&M,” said co-founder Paul Hyman.  “We are especially gratified by the much-deserved recognition of several of our young lawyers, who are continuing the strong traditions of HP&M and leading the firm into the future.”

    Receiving a tier 1 designation represents an elite status, integrity and reputation that law firms earn among other leading firms and lawyers. The 2024 edition of Best Law Firms includes rankings in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan-based practice areas.

    Best Law Firms rankings are based entirely on annual peer-review and have earned the respect of the profession, the media and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals.  Recognition by Best Law Firms is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor conferred on a firm by its peers.

    Join Us for ACI’s Advanced Legal Regulatory and Compliance Forum on OTC Drugs

    On January 23-24, 2024, the American Conference Institute (“ACI”) will host its “Advanced Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on OTC Drugs” conference at the Sofitel New York, NY.  Designed for in-house legal and compliance counsel, industry executives, and private practice attorneys working for the OTC drug industry, the event will welcome distinguished industry thought leaders – including from the National Advertising Division and FDA – to share their expertise and strategic insights.  Program highlights include:

    • Spotlight on FDA’s newly proposed ACNU Rule and Monograph Reform updates featuring FDA commentary
    • Think tank on the reclassification of Phenylephrine
    • PFAS concerns for OTCs
    • Cases Studies on recent Rx- to-OTC Switches: Analyzing the legal and regulatory implications of the Opill and Naloxone switches
    • Special focus sessions on the Homeopathic Monograph and MoCRA’s impact on the OTC industry
    • Advertising drill down on the impact of the FTC’s Health Claims and Influencer Guidances and Green Guides on OTC promotion
    • OTC Post Marketing Challenges: Addressing Adverse Events, Product Recalls, Inspection and Investigations

    Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. Director Deborah L. Livornese will be speaking at the event in a session titled “Case Studies on Opill and Naloxone: Key Takeaways from the Latest Switch Approvals and What They Mean for Future Industry Opportunities.”

    Click here to view this year’s agenda and to register for the event.  FDA Law Blog readers can save 10% with the following promo code: D10-999-FDA24.

    It’s About Time: FDA’s Proposed Rule to Amend Prior Notice Regulations

    On October 31, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed rule that would amend its prior notice regulations to add new information requirements and deadlines.  More specifically, the proposed rule, if finalized, would:

    • Amend 21 C.F.R. § 1.281(b)(10) to require that prior notice for articles of human and animal food arriving by international mail include the name of the mail service and tracking number; and
    • Amend 21 C.F.R. §§ 1.283 and 285 to require that, once a notice of refusal or hold is issued, prior notice be submitted within 10 calendar days and food facility registration information be submitted within 30 calendar days.

    “Prior notice” informs FDA about the products it can expect to be offered for import into the country. The requirement for prior notice originates in the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act).  This law directs FDA to take additional steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies. Among other things, the Act requires that FDA receive prior notification of food that is imported or offered for import into the United States. This advance notice of import shipments is intended to help FDA, with the support of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), target import inspections more effectively and help protect the nation’s food supply against terrorist acts and other public health emergencies.  The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) enacted in 2011, aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it.  Pursuant to FSMA, FDA amended the requirements for prior notice of imported food, to include a requirement to report the name of any country to which the article has been refused entry.  As a result FDA can make better informed decisions in managing potential risks of imported food into the United States.  Over time, FDA amended the prior notice regulations to require tracking numbers and other information to more easily identify foods that pose a higher health risk.

    However, currently, prior notice of food articles arriving by international mail requires the notifier to provide to FDA only with the anticipated date of mailing.  This information is insufficient to allow FDA to predict when a shipment will arrive.  As a result, FDA cannot monitor, locate, inspect, and if needed, contain any shipment that has been identified as a possible public health or bioterrorism risk.  More detailed information about the mailing such as the tracking number and the mailing service would help FDA to better coordinate with other federal agencies and refuse or hold specific food shipments that pose risks.

    The proposed rule also establishes a timeframe by which food articles subject to refusals or holds must become compliant.  In some cases, foods imported without a prior notice, with inadequate prior notice, or from an unregistered foreign food facility that is required to register have been held at ports for weeks or months, accumulating substantial demurrage costs for the importers.  Under the proposed rule, if held articles are not brought into compliance within 10 days (if held because prior notice was missing) or within 30 days (if held because food facility registration was missing), they may only be sold for export or destroyed, unless otherwise agreed to by FDA and CBP.

    Like The Marvelettes, FDA is tired of wondering when its mail will arrive and “waitin’ so patiently” for importers to achieve compliance.  But unlike this Motown girl group, FDA doesn’t need to plead with the postman; it can propose a rule.

    Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted here until January 30, 2024.

    Do You Hear What I Hear? One Year of OTC Hearing Aids

    The first anniversary is always special.  Janus-like, it offers the opportunity to simultaneously reflect on hitting a milestone and projecting the future.  The first anniversary can also prompt a taking of stock: how well did the first year go?

    Recently, the over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid rule, which went into effect on October 17, 2022, celebrated its first anniversary.  The rule established a new category of OTC hearing aids for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss, allowing them to purchase hearing aids directly from stores or online retailers without the need for a medical examination, prescription, or fitting adjustment by an audiologist.

    When FDA released the final rule, it outlined its ambitious goals.  The Agency stated that the rule was “designed to assure the safety and effectiveness of OTC hearing aids, while fostering innovation and competition in the hearing aid technology marketplace.”  The rule also aimed to provide “consumers with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss with improved access to devices that meet their needs and are less expensive than current options.”  There was widespread agreement among stakeholders that utilization of hearing aids by people with hearing loss was far too low, although there was substantial disagreement as to causes for the underutilization.  Proponents of OTC hearing aids had long claimed that these products would sharply reduce price, expand options, reduce barriers to purchase, and thereby increase usage.  One year later the question begging to be answered is: have these goals been met?

    For those who are unfamiliar with the rule, let us briefly explore its history across three different administrations (see our previous blogs: here, here, and here).  The journey began in October 2015 when the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) during the Obama Administration recommended the creation of a class of hearing aids for OTC sale.  Following this, in June 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) made a similar recommendation of creating a new category of OTC “wearable hearing devices.”  Under the Trump Administration, Congress directed FDA to establish a new category of OTC hearing aids in the FDA Reauthorization Act and publish proposed OTC hearing aid rules by August 2020.  However, FDA missed that deadline.  Almost a year later, in July 2021 President Biden issued an Executive Order mandating publication.  FDA issued a proposed rule in 2021 and the final rule in August 2022, culminating a seven-year effort involving three Administrations, Congress, FDA, and various stakeholders.  That rule went into effect on October 17, 2022, leading us to this blog post about the one-year anniversary.

    In some measurable ways, the rule has been a success.  Access has expanded.  Over the past year, many retailers—including some very large ones—started offering OTC hearing aids in their stores or on their websites, and some are available at audiology clinics.  And the number of companies selling OTC hearing aids is impressive: as of this blog post, 54 companies list OTC hearing aids with FDA under the product code QUF while 18 companies list OTC self-fitting hearing aids under the product code QUH.  However, estimating the number of entirely new OTC hearing aids spurred by the rule over the past year is not straightforward given that many of these OTC devices were previously accessible as “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) devices without FDA oversight.  Nevertheless, the presence of over 70 companies currently listing OTC hearing aids with FDA signifies a positive trajectory for further improving accessibility, at least for this first year.

    By one measure, affordability has improved.  There are now more cheap OTC hearing aids available.  Price has been seen as a barrier for some consumers.  (By law, Medicare is barred from paying for hearing aids.)  As expressed in the NASEM report, and the price of hearing aids has often been cited as a deterrent to their purchase.  At the 67th International EUHA Congress in October in Nuremberg, Germany, Hearing Industries Association (HIA) reported a wide price range for OTC hearing aids, spanning from $89.97 to $5,500.00.  Such a wide price range has allowed for more customers to dive into the market, but the technological differences between lower and higher cost products are often confusing, leading to questions about the distinction between the higher and lower end devices—and even more questions about whether the higher priced devices are worth the premium or whether the low cost products really work.  And the lack of third party coverage is still a problem such that OTC hearing aids—at least for higher priced versions—may still be unaffordable for many potential customers.

    As far as we know, there are no definitive data on the volume of OTC sales.  According to HIA, OTC hearing aid sales are estimated from 100,000 to one million units.  It is unknown how many of these sales are ones that would not have occurred but for the existence of OTC products.  Reportedly, buyers of OTC hearing aids tend to be younger and seek a simple process without appointments or prescriptions.  Notably, some hearing aid companies have partnered with consumer brands (e.g., GN and Jabra, Nuheara and HP, WSAudiology and Sony, Sonova and Sennheiser), and, because these consumers frequently prefer purchasing from recognized brands, these brands apparently have had some traction.

    Nevertheless, it’s not quite clear how well these OTC hearing aids are working.  Anecdotal data suggests that some OTC devices sufficiently meet the hearing aid fitting algorithm targets—called the NAL-N2 targets—which aim to make speech intelligible and overall loudness comfortable; some, however, reportedly do not.  The New York Times recently pointed out a considerable range of quality among OTC hearing aids that are currently on the market.  This poses a problem because if bad quality products fail to satisfy the user, the user might assume that OTC devices do not work and give up entirely, rather than trying another device or hearing care program.  (Data have shown that once dissatisfied consumers stow away their hearing aids, it can take years before they try buying a new set.)  This is reflected by return rates: One publicly traded company reports a sales return rate of 34 to 36% and notes that unsatisfactory fit and insufficient audio amplification are the most commonly cited reasons for product returns.  Further public information reveals sales with returns of more than 30% for OTC devices.  According to HIA, OTC buyers receiving some assistance from a hearing care professional or from customer service representations may have higher rates of satisfaction and lower returns to the company than those buyers who receive no assistance at all, suggesting that a hybrid OTC model is working for some customers.  This is not entirely a surprise, since people who were skeptical of the pure OTC model said that, unlike with eyeglasses, use of hearing aids was a process that required some professional help.

    One of the ostensible advantages of the implementation of OTC hearing aid rules is FDA oversight.  “DTC” hearing aids had become notorious for exaggerated claims and misleading statements.  Even with the advent of OTC hearing aids and FDA oversight, however, there are still concerns about bad actors making unsubstantiated claims, engaging in misleading advertising, and failing to conform to FDA regulations.  Examples of misleading advertising include claims of “Restore Your Natural Hearing” or recommending an OTC hearing aid for those who “Suffer from mild to severe hearing loss.”  Given that OTC hearing aids are only for mild or moderate hearing loss and cannot “restore” natural hearing, this kind of claim is plainly impermissible.  And then there is a personal favorite: using “CIA technology” for invisible hearing aids.  Most of the time, these bad actors are not registered with FDA.

    Previously, we emphasized that the success of OTC hearing aids is contingent on robust FDA enforcement, but despite this abundance of improper claims, FDA has yet to take public enforcement action to address bad actors within the hearing aid industry.  To its credit, FDA did post notices on its website including information about OTC hearing aids for both companies and consumers, but it is doubtful that these kinds of statements on an FDA website will have much effect on bad actors.  This absence of public enforcement, such as warning letters, may only serve to embolden these companies. Strengthened enforcement is crucial to protect the public health and facilitate the success of OTC hearing aids.  Bogus claims for OTC hearing aids will hurt consumers and may lead to public skepticism that OTC hearing aids are useful products.

    The one-year anniversary is a good point for reflection, but it is also early to assess the ultimate success of OTC hearing aids.  Yet the milestone should not pass without recognition, and it provides a great opportunity for objective evaluation.  It seems that results thus far have been mixed: we may have made some progress, but there’s still a ways to go.  It does seem likely that without FDA intervention, bad claims will proliferate, devaluing the entire OTC hearing aid market.

    There is one other point worth making.  Proponents of OTC hearing aids had long predicted that the adoption of the model would almost instantly lead to a blossoming of high-quality, low-cost hearing aids and a dramatic uptick in utilization.  It seemed simple: allowing consumers to by-pass costly hearing professionals would save money, make sales more “frictionless,” and lead to much greater product use.  While the advent of OTC hearing aids has had an impact, those lofty goals have not been met, at least yet.  As FDA embarks upon much more far-reaching and consequential rulemaking, such as the complete overhaul of regulation of laboratory developed tests, it is important to keep in mind that marketplaces are complex and messy, and the Law of Unintended Consequences should never be ignored.

    Categories: Medical Devices

    The Streams Have Been Crossed: FTC Enters FDA Territory

    Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!”  At least that’s this blogger’s reaction to the recent news that FTC sent out Notice letters to 10 different drug companies about the patent information they list in the Orange Book.  It’s so exciting that we might actually have an answer to some lingering questions about listability!  Maybe I’m overreacting, but it’s been almost 20 years since industry first asked FDA if it could list device patents in the Orange Book, and FTC’s intervention here is the closest thing we’ve seen to an answer to that question.  This is only by implication though: FTC did not provide an explanation as to why it thinks the patents listed are improperly listed—at least in the Notice letters made publicly available.  While I’m not a patent lawyer, these patents appear to be mostly device patents, which signals that FTC not only thinks REMS patent-listings are anti-competitive, but it also thinks device patents are.  My rudimentary and cursory review of some of these patents (NB: I’m not a patent lawyer) suggest that they aren’t all device component patents but are patents that cover entire devices in some cases.

    As FTC explains in a Press Release, the Agency “challenged more than 100 patents” that it believes are improperly or inaccurately listed in the Orange Book.  Using FDA’s process for such disputes, codified at 21 C.F.R. § 314.53(f)(1), FTC notified FDA that it disputes “the accuracy or relevance of patent information submitted to . . . and published by FDA.”  As part of that requirement, FTC must have described the specific grounds for disagreement for each patent, which FDA will send to the NDA holder.  The NDA holder then must confirm the correctness of the patent and sign a verification of accuracy, or the NDA holder must amend the patent information within 30 days of FDA’s dissemination of the statement of dispute.  So ultimately whether the patent is delisted is up to the applicant, and we should know more in about 30 days, but it’s really not the effect of the activity that’s so notable—it’s that it happened at all.

    As we have recounted a number of times, most recently here, FDA has been reluctant to comment on the types of patents that should be listed in the Orange Book.  FDA has asked for comments and published a report, but really nothing has come of that other than repeated requests from industry for guidance in this space.  As noted, the statute says that only drug formulation, composition, or method of use patents are listable, but FDA has said that patents that claim finished dosage forms, which can include “metered aerosols, capsules, metered sprays, gels, and pre-filled drug delivery systems,” should be listed in the Orange Book, suggesting that a patent that claims both the drug substance and the delivery device must be listed.  But whether a patent that only claims a device constituent of a combination product has been unclear.  And there have been no signs that FDA is planning to opine on that issue.

    So instead of FDA getting involved, FTC has taken a vested interest and issued a Policy Statement lamenting the anticompetitive listing of patents in the Orange Book.  But FTC failed to explain exactly what type of patents are anticompetitive, leaving the industry waiting with bated breath to find out what exactly FTC would do, to whom, and for what—and of course whether FTC would actually do anything or leave it to FDA, who has statutory authority over the List (AKA the Orange Book).

    Well, what FTC apparently did was review hundreds of patents in the Orange Book and utilize FDA’s regulatory processes.  But there’s no telling what the implicated manufacturers will do, because again, it is legally unclear whether the listing of the device patents is actually anticompetitive.  And this is the first inkling we have about the government’s position.  And we still haven’t heard anything substantive from FDA.

    It also is notable that FTC reserved the right to take further action, including under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which suggests that FTC is ready to take further enforcement action against companies that don’t de-list.  Indeed, that one line in the Notice letters FTC sent may end up being really critical if companies don’t willingly de-list.  But if FTC takes this further, it’s going to be interesting from a legal perspective to see how this will be handled given that neither FTC nor FDA has given a clear answer about whether device patents are listable in the Orange Book.  Requests for delisting likely don’t count as Notice and Comment…

    Anyway, it’s going to be some time before there’s any movement here.  The companies who received the Notices will need some time to assess, and FTC will need time to review the resulting activity.  But, given how quickly FTC moved after issuing its Policy Statement, it seems like there’s a big appetite for this issue at FTC.  I’m guessing that FTC is going to continue to cross FDA’s streams, and that really raises the risk of gooey marshmallow everywhere.

    Lots of FDA Guidance, But Few Drug Manufacturing “Remote Interactive Evaluations” (We Would Call Them “Virtual Inspections”)

    We were preparing this blogpost about FDA’s draft guidance on “Remote Interactive Evaluations” when we learned something.  A phone call to FDA requested information about the number of Remote Interactive Evaluations (RIEs) that FDA has performed at drug manufacturing facilities since it announced in April 2021 that it would start using them as an alternative to on-site inspections.  In response, we learned that only about seven – and certainly less than 10 – RIEs for manufacturing compliance have been performed at drug facilities in the last 30 months.  This stands in stark contrast to FDA on-site drug manufacturing inspections, which have resumed in the wake of the easing of COVID-related restrictions, totaling more than 1,800 during the same period.  To accomplish so few RIEs, especially when on-site inspections dropped off dramatically about three and a half years ago, is certainly a missed opportunity, in our view.  The number of RIEs also stands in stark contrast to the number of RIEs – more than 100 – that the Bioresearch Monitoring (BiMo) Program has performed.  Admittedly, BiMo inspections (into items like adequacy of bioequivalence data, consistency of clinical trial data with medical records, and compliance with clinical trial protocols) lend themselves better to an RIE than assessing manufacturing compliance with regulatory requirements.

    Not having much more to say about the paucity of the use of this alternative method of reviewing a manufacturing site’s regulatory compliance, let us turn to the recent draft guidance about RIEs.  Compared with the COVID-centered version of the document released in April 2021, there is very little that is new or different.

    We should explain what RIEs are.  Early in the COVID epidemic, many other regulatory agencies worldwide – but not FDA – launched virtual inspections (also referred to as “remote inspections”) of drug and medical device manufacturing facilities when COVID restricted travel and on-site inspections.  FDA, late to the game, published a guidance about its substitute for virtual inspections, making clear it doesn’t want to call RIEs “inspections,” for reasons that are somewhat obscure but are discussed in the guidances.  Significantly, FDA agrees that the RIEs may be conducted in lieu of an inspection.

    Under the new guidance, many of the same conditions apply as under the one that was issued 30 months ago:

    • The guidance notes that requests for documents under the governing statutes and virtual inspections (inspectors are in a remote location, and tour the facility using equipment that can furnish an audio and video feed, with the inspectors directing where the video camera should venture and asking the questions) are both considered “Remote Regulatory Assessments.”
    • The guidance states that FDA does “not intend to accept requests from applicants or facilities for FDA to perform a remote interactive evaluation,” because decisions to perform an RIE “depend on many factors and information not always known to applicants or facilities, and it would be unduly burdensome on all parties to establish a request-based program.” Raising the question: how does FDA define “all parties?”  Many of our clients wouldn’t consider it a burden to request an RIE to try to resolve a Warning Letter, an Import Alert, or a suspension of review of a new drug application because an earlier inspection resulted in a manufacturing facility being classified as Official Action Indicated.  Contrariwise, FDA states in the draft guidance that RIEs may be used to “rank or prioritize a facility for an inspection, particularly a surveillance CGMP inspection.”  This implies that FDA may engage with companies on a more frequent basis than the standard (although unobserved, in practice) 2-year cycle.
    • FDA specifically states that RIEs may be utilized to conduct Preapproval Inspections, which are conducted at manufacturing facilities prior to approval of a new drug application.
    • RIEs will require the facility to accommodate the “use of teleconference, livestream video, and screen sharing of data and documents.”
    • The guidance applies to facilities manufacturing human drugs, biologics, and veterinary medications, and to clinical trial sites for drugs.
    • Responses to written observations made as a result of an RIE will not be made in a Form 483 (issued at the conclusion of about half of FDA’s on-site drug inspections), but facilities are still “encouraged” to file responses within 15 business days.

    What was added in the new draft guidance?

    • Facilities where FDA requests that an RIE be performed will need to consent, in writing, to the performance of the RIE (the earlier guidance did not require consent in writing). It is unclear what would happen if the facility refuses: probably, a refusal would be foolhardy, for a number of reasons. The current and earlier guidances note that declining an RIE may delay regulatory decisions, such as approvals of applications for marketing authorization.  Likewise, a refusal to permit an RIE may well trigger an on-site inspection.  The answer to which type of inspection industry would prefer is probably self-evident.
    • Comments on the guidance are invited. In contrast, the April 2021 guidance noted that it was being “implemented immediately,” without “public participation” in the drafting of a final guidance.

    Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. Takes Top Honors in Two Prestigious Categories in 2023 LMG Life Sciences Awards

    WASHINGTON, DC — Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. is pleased to announce it took top honors in two categories in the 2023 LMG Life Sciences Awards, which recognize the best life science practitioners and firms over the past 12 months from the United States, Canada, and Europe.

    Hyman Phelps & McNamara received the following honors:

    • Tier 1 FDA: Pharmaceutical
    • Tier 1 FDA: Medical Device

    Additionally, eight professionals are included in LMG’s coverage:  Robert A. Dormer (Hall of Fame), Jeffrey N. Gibbs (Hall of Fame), John A. Gilbert, Gail H. Javitt, Kurt R. Karst, Alan M. Kirschenbaum, Frank J. Sasinowski, and Josephine M. Torrente.

    “While our attorneys don’t do this work for the recognition, it is gratifying to see their excellent work recognized.  The LMG awards are reflective of HPM’s excellence across several of our core life sciences practices, from controlled substances work to drug development, to Hatch-Waxman, to drug pricing, to medical device regulation. That combined depth and breadth of experience is why clients come to us.  The excellent work of these and other professionals at HPM is why we’ve maintained a high level of client service for 43 years,” said JP Ellison, HPM’s managing director.

    The LMG Life Sciences awards are based on case evidence and feedback from clients and peers and selected by the editors to provide attorneys and law firms with information on the legal market and the U.S. life sciences industry. Research for the guide was based on 1,000s of interviews and surveys completed by law firm partners active in the market.

    About Hyman, Phelps & McNamara

    Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. is the largest dedicated food and drug law firm in the country. Niche practices in new drug development, controlled substances, advertising, and health care law complement our core FDA practice. Our knowledge of the laws and regulations governing drugs, medical devices, foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics is unparalleled in breadth and depth. Due to our broad bench of expertise, the firm is well equipped to defend companies against government enforcement actions and advise clients on necessary compliance efforts. The firm’s clients are as diverse as the regulatory issues they face. They range from individuals and start-up companies with no in-house legal staff to large multinational corporations. In addition, other law firms retain HPM to provide targeted expertise in food and drug law to assist their clients. HPM works to avoid legal problems when possible, and to help solve them when necessary. The firm helps companies conduct business as efficiently and profitably as possible by providing advice and counsel on meeting current and future regulatory requirements.


    Jeff Grizzel, Chief Marketing Officer

    Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.

    700 13th Street, N.W., Suite 1200

    Washington, DC 20005

    (202) 999-0302 cell

    (202) 800-6116 direct


    14th Asia Pacific Symposium on Cochlear Implant and Related Sciences Set to Convene in Seoul — Featuring HP&M’s Dr. Philip Won

    The 14th Asia Pacific Symposium on Cochlear Implant and Related Sciences is poised to captivate the global scientific community from November 8-11, 2023, as it convenes in Seoul, Korea.  This prestigious four-day conference promises to deliver a wealth of cutting-edge insights, featuring presentations by eminent scientists and clinicians, all unified under the thought-provoking theme, “Towards Better Speech Perception and Beyond.”

    A standout highlight of the symposium is the anticipated presentation by Dr. Philip Won, of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.  Dr. Won will share his expertise and insights on the intricacies of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations pertaining to medical devices, with a special focus on class II and class III hearing devices.  Notably, Dr. Won’s career path included a tenure at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), Division of Dental and ENT Devices within the Office of Product Evaluation and Quality.  During this time, he deftly led multi-disciplinary teams, comprised of engineers, scientists, and clinicians, in the review of intricate submissions that left an indelible mark on the industry.

    Beyond his regulatory acumen, Dr. Won is an accomplished author, boasting a portfolio of more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, spanning various aspects of hearing devices (see his Google Scholar page). His unique background underscores his remarkable expertise as a cochlear implant researcher, a former FDA regulator, and his current role as a device attorney.  During his presentation at the symposium, Dr. Won will share invaluable insights into effective regulatory strategies that empower companies to navigate the intricate FDA approval process for cochlear implants.

    The comprehensive agenda for the symposium can be accessed in its entirety here.

    Categories: Medical Devices

    Welcome to SRP-RMT – Standardization Comes to Regenerative Medicine Therapies?

    On October 20, 2023, FDA announced the availability of the final guidance authored by CBER titled “Voluntary Consensus Standards Recognition Program for Regenerative Medicine Therapies.”  It finalized a draft guidance published in 2022.  Although fairly short and light on substance, it has the potential to reshape the industry in ways that are sorely needed.

    In short, Voluntary Consensus Standards (VCS) are intended to be exactly what the name conveys – standards that are adopted by consensus and are not mandatory (not legal or regulatory requirements).  These standards would be developed outside the Federal government, leveraging the expertise of the private sector.  This program is modeled after a similar program in place for medical devices, the formal standards and conformity assessment program (S-CAP).  In the device world, the benefits of voluntary consensus standards are two-fold: (1) sponsors are able to refer to standards for protocol design, generating a potentially massive time saving in development, and (2) if a sponsor provides a study report that conforms to a consensus standard, FDA does not need to spend time reviewing the details of the protocol and can focus reviewer resources on the results and their meaning for an application.  The hope with this new program is that it can similarly benefit the development and review of regenerative medicine therapies.  It is not especially novel even within CBER, as previous publications had encouraged the use of standards in product development.  However, in creating a standards recognition program (the “standards recognition program for regenerative medicine therapies”, or “SRP-RMT”), this guidance has the potential to get regenerative medicine to a place where it has struggled to reach: standardization.

    We have heard clients and other stakeholders repeatedly express frustration with the absence of standards in regenerative medicine.  We are also aware that FDA spends a tremendous amount of time and resources answering the same questions for sponsors.  For example, CBER’s Office of Therapeutic Products (and its predecessor the Office of Tissues and Advanced Therapies) has held six Town Hall meetings in the past 13 months (by our count) on the following topics: gene therapy CMC, cell therapy CMC, clinical development of gene therapy products for rare diseases, gene therapy CMC (again), cell therapy CMC (again), and nonclinical assessment of cell and gene therapy products.  These meetings have a question-and-answer format to provide clarity to sponsors about the particular topics at hand.  The Town Hall meetings are initial steps toward both standardization and efficiency that the new program seeks to advance.

    FDA needs assurances regarding the safety, purity, and potency of regenerative medicine products to approve them.  Because this is a relatively new field that has exploded in recent years in terms of the diversity of medical products, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to how this can be demonstrated.  A considerable roadblock in the development of RMT products is a lack of regulatory predictability. Voluntary consensus standards will not design the measuring tools, but they will help companies validate these tools and define acceptable results.  While on the surface this may not seem like major advance for the field, this could be a game changer for the gene therapy space.  While the diseases and conditions being investigated are very diverse, the treatments, delivery systems, and measuring tools have a high degree of overlap across this entire sector.  The implementation of voluntary consensus standards to methodologies that assess potency or safety could yield a profound acceleration in new treatments.

    The absence of standards was a focal point of the Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee Meeting in September 2021 that was convened to discuss the toxicity risks of AAV vector-based gene therapy products.  The minutes from that meeting reflect the discussion on that topic well in a wide variety of areas:

    • Regarding the merits and limitations of animal studies to characterize risks and recommendations on specific preclinical study design elements: “Current scientific gaps/limitations, emerging technologies for integration analysis, and the value of developing and standardizing methods were discussed.”
    • Regarding the risk of oncogenesis: “Monitoring for signs of hepatocellular carcinogenicity could be done by adopting standard approaches.”
    • Regarding screening for risk of liver injury: “Total and/or neutralizing antibody titers are screened in many clinical studies, but how such testing is performed, the cut-offs, and the acceptance criteria are all variables that may need standardization.”
    • Regarding the risk of hepatotoxicity with high doses: “An arbitrary upper limit of the total vector genome dose or total capsid dose is not recommended, as it is hard to standardize vector measurements across studies or to determine if there is an appropriate upper limit…Assays for empty capsids need better standardization.”
    • Regarding the risk of thrombotic microangiopathy with high doses: “One challenge for recommendation of an upper limit on vector dose per subject is the lack of reference standards, limiting the comparison of critical quality attributes across sponsors and/or products.”

    And here we stand today, on the brink of potentially transformational change to the industries affected – in theory.  The new guidance notes that “[i]ncreased development and use of standards has the potential to contribute to regulatory predictability and facilitate the overall development of safe and effective [regenerative medicine therapy] products.”  The guidance describes the following as potentially being suitable for the VCS recognition program:

    • Common rules, conditions, guidelines, or characteristics for products or related processes and production methods;
    • Definition of terms; classification of components; delineation of procedures; specification of dimensions, materials, performance, designs, or operations; measurement of quality or quantity in describing materials, processes, products, systems, services, or practices; test methods and sampling procedures; formats for information and communication exchange; or descriptions of fit and measurements of size or strength;
    • Terminology, symbols, packaging, marking or labeling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method.

    The guidance describes elements that would be required of VCS bodies for recognition of standards they adopt: openness (with meaningful opportunities to participate), balance (broad range of stakeholders), due process, an appeals process, and consensus.  Consensus does not require unanimity, but a general agreement.  The standards would, as stated previously, be voluntary, unless mandated by statute or regulation, and they cannot conflict with existing law or regulation.

    Existing published VCS may be identified internally by FDA or externally by stakeholders.  CBER would receive a candidate VCS from FDA staff or external stakeholders (the guidance includes a specific email address for this purpose), determine within 180 days (as resources permit) whether to recognize it in whole or in part, and then list recognized standards on its website along with summaries for future use.

    As previously stated, the novelty of this guidance and the SRP-RMT program is not the use of standards, but rather the publication of standards publicly acknowledged by FDA to be generally appropriate.  CBER may still request additional information when deemed appropriate, but the stated hope is that increased use of VCS can facilitate product development by reducing the need to develop unique methods for individual products and that they will typically reduce the amount of necessary documentation “and may reduce FDA review time.”

    Only time will tell how successful this program will be, but there is certainly the potential for order to come to the field of regenerative medicine, where there is currently a frustrating amount of variability and uncertainty.  Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that FDA is deferring to the expertise of the private sector that struggles intimately with this variability and uncertainty in their efforts to meet FDA’s standards and get regenerative medicine therapies to patients.  By collaborating with the private sector, the hope is that FDA can leverage the expertise that such close familiarity engenders and can provide sponsors with some level of clarity and consistency for their development programs.  Not only does this provide an opportunity for sponsors and other stakeholders to shape FDA policy and to provide leadership on crucial unanswered development questions, we can only hope it will deliver answers (or at least options) for sponsors dealing with these challenges where there are currently few certainties.

    Categories: Drug Development