Gene Therapy Company Sues FDA After Being Placed on Clinical Hold

November 11, 2019By Deborah L. Livornese

On November 7, 2019, gene therapy company Regenxbio Inc., filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. against FDA asking the court to set aside a partial clinical hold on one clinical trial and a full clinical trial for another.  The complaint also seeks to have a section of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDC Act”) – 21 U.S.C. §355(i)(3)(B)(ii); FDC Act §505(i)(3)(B)(ii) – that allows FDA to issue a clinical hold for a reason established by regulation that is other than a determination that the drug involved represents an unreasonable risk to subject safety.

As described in the complaint, FDA issued a clinical hold on the sponsor’s investigative drug for treatment of retinal disease on October 18, 2019 “without notice or explanation,” and has failed to provide the sponsor with a detailed explanation of the basis of the clinical hold other than to say that the INDs were placed on hold due to issues associated with the delivery system.  The company withdrew one IND on October 25, 2019, and the other IND remains on partial clinical hold.  FDA notified the sponsor on November 1st that it would provide a written basis for the hold by “the due date of 11/15/19.”

The complaint also alleges that FDA failed to comply with its regulations because the original email providing notice of the clinical hold did not “briefly explain the basis for the action,” as required by 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(d).  The same regulation also provides that within 30 days after imposition of the hold, the Division Director will provide the sponsor a written explanation of the basis of the hold.  November 15th is the date by which FDA stated it would provide the sponsor with the written basis of the hold (it falls within that 30 days based on the dates provided in the complaint).

While it seems unlikely that the merits of the clinical hold will be resolved through the judiciary process in a helpful timeframe, the complaint has likely increased the chances that FDA will respond with a thorough explanation of its reason for the hold when it does provide the written basis.