Alliance for Natural Health Asks FDA to Fix IND Guidance

March 30, 2018By Riëtte van Laack

In September 2013, FDA issued a final guidance addressing when, according to FDA, companies need an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for clinical studies in humans. The final guidance created quite a stir, as it included several sections that had not been included in the draft guidance; notably, the final guidance suggested that an IND was required for most clinical studies on food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. We previously blogged on this guidance here. After receipt of numerous comments, FDA reopened the comment period regarding these new sections. Then, in October 2015, FDA announced a stay on a select few subsections regarding clinical studies on foods and dietary supplements. As we previously discussed, FDA did not stay the IND requirement for clinical studies designed to evaluate a dietary supplement’s ability to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease (except if those studies are designed to evaluate whether a dietary supplement reduces the risk of a disease, are intended to support a health claim, and are conducted in a population that does not include individuals in the medically vulnerable population) and clinical studies designed to evaluate whether a dietary supplement reduces the risk of a disease conducted in a population that includes individuals in the medically vulnerable population.

Although the document is merely guidance and is not binding, generally IRBs tend to require an IND if FDA guidance has taken the position that an IND is needed. Moreover, as explained in the March 15, 2018 Petition by the Alliance for Natural Health, FDA’s requirement for an IND has created a bit of a conundrum for dietary supplement companies developing new dietary ingredients. If they want to do a clinical study on their dietary ingredient and that ingredient has not yet been marketed, they may forever foreclose the marketing of the dietary ingredient as a dietary ingredient. This is because, under the exclusionary clause in FDC Act § 201(ff)(3), the clinical studies under an IND (which FDA claims are needed) result in the exclusion of the product from the dietary supplement definition, even though the company had no intent to ever market the product as a drug.

Petitioner argues that FDA has historically regulated products based on intended use, which is determined by the manufacturer’s marketing representations and labeling of a product rather than by the clinical investigations, and FDA has not offered a rationale for the requirement for an IND when a company wants to perform a clinical study on a dietary supplement but has no plans to develop the product as a drug. Comments to the guidance had made similar arguments. Maybe the Petition will result in FDA providing a rationale, or better yet, result in a revision of the IND guidance. Petitioner asks that FDA amend the guidance to clarify that, if the supplement under investigation is fully compliant with IRB procedures and is not represented as a drug through marketing statements, and any claims made for the supplement are lawful dietary supplement claims, no IND is required for clinical studies on the supplement even if the endpoint measured is a disease endpoint.