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FDA Publishes De Novo Classification Final Rule with Few Changes from the Proposed Rule

FDA Publishes De Novo Classification Final Rule with Few Changes from the Proposed Rule

By McKenzie E. Cato & Jeffrey K. Shapiro

After 23 years, de novo classification review finally has an implementing regulation!

The other major review processes have had their regulations in place for many decades.  The Medical Device Amendments of 1976 created the initial premarket application (PMA) review and 510(k) substantial equivalence review processes.  Only a year later, in 1977, FDA promulgated regulations governing 510(k) reviews (21 C.F.R. Part 807, Subpart E).  In 1986, FDA followed up with the PMA regulations (21 C.F.R. Part 814).

In 1997, the de novo classification process was added to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997.  The de novo process was later amended by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act and the 21st Century Cures Act.  Yet, all this time, this process lacked implementing regulations governing the process and the criteria for approval.  The regulatory uncertainty has ill‑befitted a very important pathway to market for novel medical devices.

The rule became final on October 5, 2021 via publication in the Federal Register.  The new rule will be codified in 21 C.F.R. Part 860.  It was published approximately three years after the December 7, 2018 release of the proposed rule (see blog post on the proposed rule here).  The de novo rule is structurally similar to the 510(k) regulations (21 C.F.R. Part 807, Subpart E) and the PMA regulations (21 C.F.R. Part 814), and consistent with existing guidance documents on de novo request content and review:

As discussed in detail in our post on the proposed rule, there are certain features of the de novo regulations that will increase the burden on de novo requesters, and may exceed FDA’s statutory authority.

The final rule is largely unchanged from the proposed rule.  Perhaps the most controversial provision in the de novo rule is the inspectional authority FDA grants itself:  “[the Agency] may inspect relevant facilities to help determine” (1) that both nonclinical and clinical data were collected in a manner that ensures the data accurately represents device benefits and risks, and (2) that implementation of the Quality System Regulation (QSR), along with general and special controls, provide adequate assurance of safety and effectiveness.

In our post on the proposed rule, we pointed out that with certain 510(k)s and generally all PMAs, the FDCA affirmatively grants pre‑approval inspection authority.  Specifically, for 510(k)s, QSR inspections are prohibited unless FDA finds that “there is a substantial likelihood that the failure to comply with such regulations will potentially present a serious risk to human health.”  FDCA § 513(f)(5).  In the PMA context, the statute permits FDA to withhold approval if manufacturing facilities do not conform to QSR requirements.  Id. § 515(d)(2)(C).  In contrast, the FDCA is silent regarding pre-classification inspections for de novo requests.  Some commenters, including AdvaMed, noted this apparent lack of inspectional statutory authority when it comes to de novo classification.

In the preamble, FDA insists that the inspectional authority claimed in the final rule is narrowly drawn and will not be much used.  FDA says inspections may be necessary if a device has “critical and/or novel manufacturing processes that may impact the safety and effectiveness of the device.”  86 Fed. Reg. 54,826, 54,832 (Oct. 5, 2021).  FDA clarifies that, unlike pre-approval inspections conducted during a PMA review, the purpose of an inspection of a manufacturing facility for a de novo review is “not for the purpose of reviewing for compliance with the QSR.”  Id.  Rather, it is to “determine whether the proposed special controls are sufficient to reasonably assure safety and effectiveness or if additional controls are needed under section 513(f)(2)” of the FDCA.  Id.  FDA forecasts that the circumstances where an inspection is necessary “should arise with a small percentage of De Novo requests.”  Id.

As to nonclinical and clinical testing facilities, FDA asserts authority to inspect comes from section 513(a)(1)(C), which defines Class III devices and subjects them to premarket approval under section 515.  FDA states that such inspections are necessary in order to “ensure[] the data accurately represents the risks and benefits of the device.”  Id.

It remains to be seen whether FDA will be successful in justifying the new inspectional authority.  As discussed in our blog post on the proposed rule, the statutory provision that authorizes classification proceedings (FDCA § 513) does not authorize manufacturing inspections, except for a limited exception in the 510(k) context.  Since a de novo review is at bottom the promulgation of a new classification regulation under authority of § 513, it seems a stretch to say that it authorizes FDA to undertake inspections in connection with such classification proceedings.  As to the testing facility inspections, without more explanation than was provided in the preamble, it is not clear how section 513(a)(1)(C) provides authority.

On the timing of de novo reviews, both the proposed and final rule state that FDA will grant or deny a de novo classification request within 120 days after receipt, with the exception of a pause in FDA’s review clock for up to 180 days while a requester responds to deficiencies identified by FDA.  The 120-day deadline is already in the statute, so FDA had no choice but to adopt this deadline in the final rule.

Of course, despite the statutory deadline, pursuant to the MDUFA IV commitment letter, FDA currently has a goal to review 70% of de novo requests received in FY 2022 within 150 days.  The final rule theoretically shaves the current review timeline down by 30 days, and it applies to all de novo requests (not just 70% of requests).

It will be interesting to see if and how FDA will be able to meet the new, shorter timeline.  It is possible that this shortened timeline will motivate FDA to be selective in its decisions to conduct pre‑classification inspections.  Alternatively, perhaps FDA will simply fail to meet the timeline or will continue to make to agreements with Congress that override both the statutory and regulatory timeline.

The final rule requires, among other things, that the requestor submit a copy of representative advertisements for the device.  FDA disagreed with a comment that advertisements are outside the scope of a Class I and Class II device review, stating that “such information is necessary to determine the device’s intended use and its safety and effectiveness for the purposes of classification.”  86 Fed. Reg. at 54,839.  FDA does not have authority over the advertising of Class I and II devices (which was given to the Federal Trade Commission), so the Agency justifies this request based on its authority to consider intended use when determining safety and effectiveness.  21 C.F.R. § 860.7(b)(2).

The final rule becomes operative on January 3, 2022.  As FDA begins to implement these provisions, we will be particularly interested in seeing how frequently FDA chooses to conduct pre‑classification inspections and whether they keep such inspections within the narrow scope described in the preamble.

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R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company First to Receive E-Cigarette PMTA Authorization

R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company First to Receive E-Cigarette PMTA Authorization

By David B. Clissold

On October 12, 2021, FDA authorized the marketing of R.J. Reynolds (RJR) Vapor Company’s Vuse Solo electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) device and accompanying tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods, specifically, Vuse Solo Power Unit, Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G1, and Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G2. This marks the first e-cigarette ever to be authorized by the FDA through the Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) pathway.  In a press release announcing the orders, Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products stated that the RJR data “demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.

As we have previously discussed, under the PMTA pathway, manufacturers must demonstrate that, among other things, marketing of the new tobacco product would be appropriate for the protection of the public health. According to the FDA press release, the Vuse e-cigarette products were found to meet this standard:

because, among several key considerations, the agency determined that study participants who used only the authorized products were exposed to fewer harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) from aerosols compared to users of combusted cigarettes. . . .  Additionally, the FDA considered the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, including users and non-users of tobacco products, and importantly, youth. This included review of available data on the likelihood of use of the product by young people.  For these products, the FDA determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth, provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products.

FDA also issued 10 marketing denial orders (MDOs) for flavored ENDS products submitted under the Vuse Solo brand by RJR.  FDA stated that the agency is still evaluating the company’s application for menthol-flavored products under the Vuse Solo brand.

FDA Provides Update on Pending PMTAs

FDA faced a crush of PMTA submissions in August–September 2020, largely for ENDS products.  To understand why that crush occurred, recall that for the “deemed” tobacco products that are subject to FDA regulation under the 2016 deeming rule, including ENDS products, FDA established certain “compliance periods.” The original deadline for submission of PMTAs for products subject to the deeming rule such as ENDS products was August 8, 2018.  The PMTA submission deadline was extended several times by FDA, and the agency ultimately decided that for combustible products such as cigars, pipe tobacco, and hookah tobacco, the submission deadline would be August 8, 2021, while for non-combustible products such as e-cigarettes and other ENDS products, the submission deadline would be August 8, 2022.

After the last FDA extension of time, several public health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics sued FDA to force shorter deadlines.  In July 2019, the court shortened the deadlines for submission of premarket review applications for the “deemed” tobacco products from August 8, 2022 (for non-combustible products) to May 11, 2020 (see our post here).  The order also provided that a product subject to a timely submitted PMTA could remain on the market for up to one year from the date of application while FDA considered the application.  In April 2020, the court extended the submission deadline for non-combustible products to September 9, 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  FDA reported that it received thousands of submissions representing more than 6.5 million products, mostly ENDS products, by the deadline of Sept. 9, 2020.

In the October 12, 2021 press release, FDA reported that it had “taken action” on over 98% of the applications submitted by that deadline.  This includes issuing MDOs for more than one million flavored ENDS products.  It should be noted that RJR submitted its Vuse Solo PMTAs on October 10, 2019, about 10 months before the PMTA submission crush, and it still took FDA two full years to review the Vuse Solo PMTAs.  FDA said that would “continue to issue decisions on applications, as appropriate, and is committed to working to transition the current marketplace to one in which all ENDS products available for sale have demonstrated that marketing of the product is ‘appropriate for the protection of the public health.’”

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The FTC Resurrects Its Penalty Offense Authority in a Big Way

The FTC Resurrects Its Penalty Offense Authority in a Big Way

By Karin F.R. Moore & Riëtte van Laack

Last fall, when AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC was pending before the Supreme Court, former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Rohit Chopra (now Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and Samuel Levine (recently appointed Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection) coauthored an article proposing resurrecting the FTC Act’s penalty offense authority. Rohit Chopra & Samuel A.A. Levine, The Case for Resurrecting the FTC Act’s Penalty Offense Authority, U. Pa. L. Rev. (forthcoming). If you haven’t heard of the Penalty Offense Authority found in Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(m)(1)(B), you aren’t alone – it was added to the FTC Act in 1975, and it was apparently highly successful for some time, but then largely abandoned during the 1980s when the FTC’s leadership saw markets as “self-correcting” and sought to rid itself of the “national nanny” moniker.  Chopra and Levine urged:

Using this authority, the Commission can substantially increase deterrence and reduce litigation risk by noticing whole industries of Penalty Offenses, exposing violators to significant civil penalties, while helping to ensure fairness for honest firms. This would dramatically improve the FTC’s effectiveness relative to our current approach, which relies almost entirely on another authority, Section 13(b). Section 13(b) does not allow the Commission to seek penalties against wrongdoers, and it is now under threat in the Supreme Court. Chopra & Levine, supra.

Under this authority, the FTC can send companies a “Notice of Penalty Offenses,” also referred to as a “Section 205 Synopsis.”  These Notices list certain types of conduct that the FTC has determined, in prior administrative orders, violate the FTC Act.  Once a company receives the Notice, it then “knows” about the conduct the FTC prohibits and if the company subsequently engages in the prohibited conduct, it can be subject to civil penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.

As we reported here, the U.S. Supreme Court in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC, No. 19-508 (Apr. 22, 2021), unanimously held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not authorize the Commission to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.  In response, the FTC has done what Chopra and Levine urged, and “resurrected” its Penalty Offense Authority.

The Commission’s first such Notices under the resurrection went out on October 6, 2021 to 70 for-profit educational institutions.  And in what seems to be an effort to send Notices to every entity who might arguably be covered by a prior order, the FTC sent Notices to more than 700 companies on October 13, 2021, including many consumer product, pharmaceutical, and food manufacturers, focused on the misleading use of endorsements and testimonials.  The FTC’s Penalty Offenses Concerning Endorsements website lists the cases the FTC relied on, which date between 1941 – 1984, and includes a sample Notice and letter and a list of recipients.

While the application of this authority seems fairly cut and dried, the FTC has only used this authority once in the last decade.  There may be reasons for that including the necessity of proving that the defendant committed the same conduct and did so with actual knowledge that the conduct was unfair or deceptive.  Any litigation in this area could be complex and protracted – defendants can challenge the FTC’s original determination of unfairness or deception, and the standard for actual knowledge is high (and has been recently litigated at the Supreme Court in the ERISA context in Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, 140 S. Ct. 768 (2020)).

The FTC assures the companies – and the public – “the fact that a company is on the list is NOT an indication that it has done anything wrong,” and that the Notices are not based on a review of a company’s advertising.  FTC, List of October 2021 Recipients of the FTC’s Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Deceptive or Unfair Conduct around Endorsements and Testimonials (last updated Oct. 15, 2021).  However, there is no indication from the FTC about the determination of who should receive a Notice.

What does this shift to the Penalty Offense Authority portend?  The first thing is that the FTC is clearly signaling more aggressive enforcement.  This shouldn’t come as a big surprise if you have been following the FTC, its new Chairman, Lina Khan, and its actions in the past nine months.  The second more surprising thing is that the votes of the Commission to authorize sending these Notices was 5-0: the Commission is unanimous in its support of the use of these Notices.  It will be interesting to see if the votes to seek civil penalties are similarly unanimous and whether the increased enforcement crosses party lines as well.  And finally, the FTC is giving companies the warning up front.  There will not be any second chances or cease and desist orders as in the past – if you violate the law after being warned, the FTC is likely to seek civil penalties.

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FDA Withdraws Temporary Hand Sanitizer Policies Effective December 31, 2021

FDA Withdraws Temporary Hand Sanitizer Policies Effective December 31, 2021

By Karin F.R. Moore

The FDA announced last week that it intends to withdraw its guidance documents issued in March 2020 outlining temporary policies regarding the manufacture of hand sanitizers. Effective December 31, 2021, companies manufacturing hand sanitizers and alcohol for use in hand sanitizer under the temporary policies must cease production of these products. Hand sanitizers manufactured before or on December 31, 2021, and produced under the temporary policies by can no longer be sold or distributed by manufacturers after March 31, 2022.  Those who wish to continue to manufacture hand sanitizer after December 31, 2021 must comply with the tentative final monograph for over-the-counter topical antiseptics and other applicable requirements, including the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements.

As you may remember, at the outset of the pandemic, there was a shortage of hand sanitizer, and many different types of companies, like distilleries and breweries, sought to step into the breach and manufacture hand sanitizer.  Because of this, the FDA issued a Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19), and policies for the manufacture of alcohol to be used in hand sanitizer.  The FDA is now withdrawing these policies because consumers and health care professionals are no longer experiencing difficulties finding hand sanitizer products, and these temporary policies are no longer needed to help meet demand.

The FDA has posted a helpful Q & A to assist those who have been manufacturing under the temporary policies.

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FDA Issues First Orders and More Under the CARES Act: Final Administrative Orders, a Sunscreen Proposed Order and the 3-Year Forecast

FDA Issues First Orders and More Under the CARES Act: Final Administrative Orders, a Sunscreen Proposed Order and the 3-Year Forecast

By Deborah L. Livornese

Many of us have been waiting not-so patiently for FDA to begin implementing the over-the-counter (OTC) monograph reform provisions of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (see our blog post here).  While we are aware that behind the scenes the Office of Nonprescription Drugs has been busy hiring, training, reorganizing and otherwise working on implementation, apart from setting the amount of the new fees and related actions (see our blog post here), until very recently, little had been officially forthcoming from FDA under these provisions.  Now FDA has taken several actions in the past few weeks that we describe below.

Deemed Final Administrative Orders

As part of the process of moving from the old rule-based monograph system to an administrative order framework, the CARES Act provides that in most cases a final monograph or tentative final monograph that establishes conditions of use for a drug described in section 505G(a)(1) or (2) of the FD&C Act is “deemed to be a final order”. These deemed final orders provide the current OTC drug monograph conditions that are in effect for each therapeutic category addressed by them.

As a first step in implementing this provision of the CARES Act, FDA issued a Federal Register notice on September 21, 2021, announcing the availability of the first group of deemed final administrative orders.  In that notice, FDA also announced the establishment of a web portal, OTC Monographs@FDA, which provides access to the repository of final orders.  FDA intends to make the deemed final orders available in batches on a rolling basis until all 32 orders are available in the repository.  Their availability will be announced on the FDA website and FDA will not make additional announcements in the Federal Register.  As of this writing, 12 final orders can be found in the repository.

For each OTC monograph title (e.g., nighttime sleep aid drug products), the repository provides an OTC Monograph ID (e.g., M002) and an Order ID (e.g., OTC000001) and an Order Title.  Perhaps one day those numbers will be as familiar as references to the various parts of the CFR containing the monographs (maybe).

What is not found in the repository (as far as we can tell) is an easy way to access the rulemaking history for each order (the various tentative final monographs and amendments, and the advance notice of proposed rulemaking). The preambles to the rulemaking notices provide essential insights into FDA’s intent in adopting the original rules.  The final administrative orders include the same citations to the relevant Federal Register notices that have always been found in the Code of Federal Regulations, but no links.  We here at HPM hope that FDA will continue to maintain the webpage Status of OTC Rulemakings which contains easily accessed historical information and links. Even taking into consideration the webpage’s well-known shortcomings that resulted from a lack of funding for its upkeep over the years, it is a handy research tool.  Better yet, the addition of links for the rulemaking/administrative order history for each administrative order in the repository would be quite welcome.

Sunscreen Orders

As described in our blog post here, in 2019 FDA issued a proposed rule for sunscreens under the OTC drug review as required implicitly by the Sunscreen Innovation Act (a deadline for a final rule, but not the requisite proposed rule was included in the SIA).  By operation of its terms, the CARES Act, however, established a deemed final order for sunscreens, among other therapeutic categories as discussed above.  The CARES Act also mandated that FDA issue a proposed order to amend and revise the deemed final order for sunscreens by September 27, 2021.  FDA  posted both the sunscreen deemed final order and the new proposed order before this deadline.

The provisions of the sunscreen deemed final order essentially maintain the status quo, including requirements related to active ingredients from the 1999 final monograph, which was stayed and did not go into effect, and the labeling and effectiveness requirements from the 2011 final labeling and testing rule codified at 21 CFR § 201.327.  The deemed final order establishes the current monograph for OTC sunscreen products.  Consequently, there is no longer a need for the guidance Enforcement Policy – OTC Sunscreen Drug Products Marketed Without an Approved Application and it has been withdrawn.

The sunscreen proposed order is substantively consistent with the 2019 proposed rule.  Like the 2019 proposed rule, the new proposed order includes a maximum SPF value of 60+ and a requirement that all sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher meet the requirements for broad spectrum protection.  As to active ingredients, again consistent with the 2019 proposed rule, the new proposed order proposes only zinc oxide and titanium oxide sunscreens as generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) and identifies the others as not GRASE either because of safety concerns (aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate) or because of inadequate data to support safety (for the remaining ingredients).

A 45-day public comment period on the proposed order ends November 12, 2021.  FDA will consider comments received on the proposed order in concert with those previously submitted for the 2019 proposed rule in developing a final administrative order.  Interestingly, FDA has stated in FDA’s Questions and Answers  and elsewhere that if at the close of the comments for the proposed order, available data do not resolve the outstanding questions about an ingredient, but FDA has received “satisfactory indication of timely and diligent progress on the necessary studies for a specific ingredient,” it would be prepared to initially defer issuance of a revised final order regarding the status of sunscreens containing that ingredient.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the approach FDA has taken with antiseptic monograph ingredients.  For more information on the effects of these sunscreen orders, see FDA’s Questions and Answers webpage.

The Forecast

One of the commitments FDA made in the OMUFA goals letter was to publish by October 1st of each year a nonbinding list of monograph issues FDA intends to address in the coming three years.  What issues would appear on the first list has been a subject of speculation since long before the CARES Act became law.  We expected to see monographs related to drugs that have been the subject of drug safety communications from FDA such as benzocaine-containing products and codeine-containing cough medicines and also expected FDA would want to tackle pediatric dosing of acetaminophen. Others appearing on the list are more surprising.  Here’s the list issued October 1, 2021 (in no particular order per FDA):

Planned Proposed Safety Orders

  • Risks Associated with Codeine-Containing Cough Medicine
  • Pediatric Acetaminophen Dosing
  • Risks Associated with Propylhexedrine Abuse and Misuse
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Oligohydramnios
  • Oral Healthcare in Infants and Children (addressing benzocaine and phenol preparations)
  • Serious Skin Reactions Associated with Acetaminophen

Also included on the list is a planned proposed order on the anticaries test method to address test methods.

FDA indicates in the forecast that it is not seeking additional data at this time in advance of issuing a proposed order and notes that each proposed order will specify a comment period during which data and comments can be submitted.

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FDA Issues Unsupported Safety Warning Regarding Surgical Robots for Cancer Treatment

FDA Issues Unsupported Safety Warning Regarding Surgical Robots for Cancer Treatment

By Jeffrey K. Shapiro & Allyson B. Mullen

In recent years, for novel robot assisted surgery (RAS) devices, FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has taken the approach of clearing RAS devices for specific indications for use.  Gone are the days of tool type indications for this type of device.  Rather, FDA seems intent on regulating RAS devices almost as if they were therapeutics responsible for long term clinical outcomes.

This view was highlighted, recently, in a safety warning issued by FDA regarding surgical robots for treatment of cancer (here).  In this safety communication, FDA states:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reminding patients and health care providers that the safety and effectiveness of robotically-assisted surgical (RAS) devices for use in mastectomy procedures or in the prevention or treatment of breast cancer have not been established. ***

RAS devices have been cleared for use in certain types of surgical procedures commonly performed in patients with cancer, such as hysterectomy, prostatectomy, and colectomy. These clearances are based on short-term (30 day) patient follow up. The FDA has not evaluated the safety or effectiveness of RAS devices for the prevention or treatment of cancer, based on cancer-related outcomes such as overall survival, recurrence, and disease-free survival.

This view of FDA’s role in regulating RAS devices is strange.  The essence of RAS devices is to aid surgeons in conducting surgery.  Therefore, it makes sense that FDA would review data on intra‑operative performance and perhaps acute outcomes.  But these devices are not independent cancer therapeutics.  It is well out of bounds for FDA to regulate them as if they were a determinant of long term clinical outcomes.

As a scientific/medical matter, there are many variables beside the RAS device that are responsible for clinical outcomes.  Will FDA now begin reviewing various types of manual surgical tools based on their long term clinical outcomes?  The question answers itself.  Although RAS devices do introduce some novelty in how the surgery is performed, they should not be treated as if they were intended to confer a specific therapeutic benefit any more than manual surgical tools would be.

FDA issued the same type of warning regarding RAS devices and mastectomy back in February 2019 suggesting that FDA believes the problem has persisted.  Notably, the 2021 safety warning makes no mention of FDA actually be aware of patients having been injured or adverse health outcomes related to RAS devices being used for mastectomy or other cancer-related procedures, and the 2019 safety warning mentions only “limited, preliminary evidence that the use of robotically-assisted surgical devices for treatment or prevention of cancers that primarily (breast) or exclusively (cervical) affect women may be associated with diminished long-term survival.”

The recent safety warning also highlights that FDA expects an investigational device exemption (IDE) for studies of RAS devices for new indications for use.  FDA states that such studies should include long-term patient follow-up regarding the prevent and treatment of cancer, and safeguards such as study stopping rules and periodic reporting to FDA.  Given these onerous requirements, it is not a surprise that RAS device manufacturers have not sought clearance for RAS devices for oncology procedures.  It would also be beyond the scope of what RAS device manufacturers are intending to offer, which is a better surgical tool, not a therapeutic for cancer.

For many years, Intuitive surgical had the sole FDA clearances for surgical robotic systems.  The original clearances were largely for a tool-type indication, even if examples of specific procedures were provided.  Subsequently, more companies have entered this space with full or partially roboticized devices.  Examples include the Medrobotics Flex System and the Hominis Surgical System.

FDA has taken a hard line that each new surgical robot, as compared to Intuitive’s original robot, are not tools and each one presents new issues of safety and effectiveness due to their complex design and construction and specific indications.  This approach has the perverse effect of slowing innovation in RAS devices, helping to further entrench Intuitive’s 20 year old technology.

Again, this situation raises the question of where FDA’s role ends and the surgeons’ role begins with regard to use of RAS devices in the field of medicine.  The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act states that nothing in the Act shall “limit or interfere with” the authority of a clinician to utilize any legally marketed device on a patient “for any condition or disease within a legitimate health care practitioner patient relationship.”  21 U.S.C. § 395.

With FDA’s push for more specific indications for use for RAS devices, healthcare providers cannot be limited only to those indications for use, especially if a device could be useful for an unapproved procedure/patient.  Thus, this part of the Act becomes that much more important to healthcare providers innovating in the field of medicine.  Healthcare providers must assess and make use of legally marketed devices in whatever way they see fit to treat their patients appropriately.

Equally, how can FDA issue a specific warning, like its recent cancer warning, regarding use of a legally marketed device if a surgeon believes it is appropriate for his/her patient, especially when, at best, FDA has cited “limited, preliminary evidence” of adverse outcomes?  If limited evidence is the bar for putting patients and healthcare providers on notice that an alleged off-label use of a medical device is dangerous, it seems that FDA should be warning about all sorts of issues.

We support FDA’s general efforts to inform healthcare providers and protect patient safety.  In the case of RAS devices, however, it seems to have may be going too far with policing practice of medicine and surgeons’ ability to choose which tool is right for a patient’s procedure.  To further innovation, FDA should limit itself to a review of whether a novel surgical platform is safe and effective for use in performing surgery and perhaps out to 30 days’ follow up.  Anything more is unwarranted mission creep.  FDA’s focus on long term clinical outcomes in surgical procedures performed with RAS devices invades a space that should be left to the practice of medicine.

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Hey Now! IQOS IQOS All Day (Just Not in the United States)

Hey Now! IQOS IQOS All Day (Just Not in the United States)

By David B. Clissold

It seems that although FDA giveth, the ITC taketh away.

IQOS is a tobacco heating system in which “heatsticks” (reconstituted tobacco blended with glycerin) are electrically heated to release nicotine-containing aerosol, but the tobacco is not combusted.  Because IQOS was classified as a cigarette by FDA, it was required to have FDA marketing authorization before it could be marketed.  Accordingly, the IQOS premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) were submitted to the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) on May 15, 2017.  On April 30, 2019 CTP issued PMTA marketing orders for IQOS  to Phillip Morris S.A., Marketing Order from Matthew R. Holman, Ph.D., Office of Science Director, Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Admin., to Philip Morris Products S.A. (Apr. 30, 2019), which became the second company of only three companies to date ever to receive such an order.  Accordingly, the CTP’s 122-page “Decision Summary” for IQOS, U.S. Food and Drug Admin., Premarket Tobacco Product Marketing Order Decision Summary for IQOS System Holder and Charger, PM0000479 (Apr. 30, 2019), became something of a guidepost for companies seeking a PMTA marketing order, particularly for those products such as e-cigarettes and the other deemed tobacco products that were required to submit a PMTA by the September 9, 2020 deadline (the uncertain fate of these PMTAs will be discussed in a later post).

However, in a patent case filed by R.J. Reynolds, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled on September 30, 2021 that Philip Morris International and Altria must stop the sale and import of the IQOS tobacco product. Certain Tobacco Heating Articles and Components Thereof; Commission’s Final Determination Finding a Violation of Section 337, 86 Fed. Reg. 54,998 (USITC Oct. 5, 2021) (notice).  The trade agency found that IQOS infringed two of Reynolds’ patents.  The import and sales ban will take effect in two months after an administrative review that requires President Joe Biden’s signature.  While an appeal or settlement is always a possibility, it appears that for now consumers will not be able to obtain IQOS in the United States.

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FDA Announces New Process for Requesting Release from Postmarketing Requirements (PMRs)

FDA Announces New Process for Requesting Release from Postmarketing Requirements (PMRs)

By McKenzie E. Cato & Deborah L. Livornese

As surveyed in detail by our colleagues in an earlier blog post, FDA’s PDUFA VII goals letter, for fiscal years 2023-2027, is full of announcements and new agency initiatives.  One of those announcements is a commitment to create a new process for reviewing sponsor-initiated requests for release from postmarketing requirements (PMRs).

The process outlined in the goals letter begins when a sponsor submits a request to FDA summarizing its rationale for why an existing PMR is no longer needed, including all necessary supporting data and information.

The relevant FDA review division or office will initiate review of the request, and will notify the sponsor of any additional information considered necessary to evaluate the request within 45 days of receipt.  FDA will then respond to the sponsor with a decision on the PMR release request within 60 days of receipt of the original request, or within 60 days of receipt of the additional information requested by FDA, whichever is later.

FDA’s decision will take the form of an “agreement letter” or a “non-agreement letter.”  In the case of a non-agreement letter, FDA will provide its rationale for the decision.

If FDA’s response is a non-agreement letter, the sponsor has the option of submitting a request for reconsideration with justification, and any additional information and/or data if appropriate.  The process as outlined in the goals letter does not include a deadline for when such a request for reconsideration must be submitted.

Upon receiving a reconsideration request, the review division/office will discuss with the appropriate internal committee that includes senior agency leadership (e.g., Medical Policy and Program Review Committee, Medical Policy Coordinating Committee, and Pediatric Review Committee).  The review division/office will issue a written response to the reconsideration request within 45 days of receipt.  As with the original request for release from the PMR, FDA’s decision will be an agreement letter or a non-agreement letter, and if a non-agreement letter, will include FDA’s rationale for the decision.

Today, sponsors are able to submit requests for release from PMRs.  FDA may respond to these requests by arranging a teleconference to discuss and/or providing a decision in the form of a General Advice Letter.  However, there is currently no formalized timeline or review process.  There is also no guarantee that FDA will provide any rationale for its decision to deny a request for PMR release.

The new review process announced in the PDUFA VII commitment letter will bring much-needed consistency and predictability to requesting release from PMRs.  Additionally, the commitment to include FDA’s rationale in a non-agreement letter will provide sponsors another opportunity to address FDA’s concerns in the form of a reconsideration request.

We look forward to the roll-out of this new process, but it will be some time until we see it in action.  This new process will be incorporated into relevant agency procedures and guidances beginning FY 2023, and will be finalized by the end of FY 2027 and are not subject to PDUFA performance goals.  So, FDA may not begin implementing this new process immediately, but it may be a potential avenue for sponsors starting in late 2022 or early 2023.

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PhRMA Sues Arkansas for Meddling in the Federal 340B Drug Discount Program

PhRMA Sues Arkansas for Meddling in the Federal 340B Drug Discount Program

By Faraz Siddiqui

Last week, we blogged about a growing list of drug manufacturers that have refused to follow a 2010 guidance issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”), which permits 340B covered entities to contract with multiple pharmacies to dispense drugs to covered entity patients.  Because of concerns that these contract pharmacies, which include some of the largest chains in the U.S., are diverting drugs purchased at low 340B prices to non-340B patients, the companies are declining to sell drugs to 340B covered entities that use multiple contract pharmacies.

When HRSA threatened enforcement action and penalties, several companies sued the HHS in federal district courts in Maryland, Indiana, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia to enjoin those enforcement actions (see list below). These lawsuits were filed between January and June of 2021.

On May 31, 2021, even as the contract pharmacy dispute was playing out in federal courts, the Arkansas legislature enacted Act 1103 of 2021, entitled the “340B Drug Pricing Nondiscrimination Act.” See Ark. Code Ann. § 23-92-604(c)(1), (2). Among other things, Act 1103 makes it unlawful for pharmaceutical manufacturers to prohibit pharmacies from contracting with a 340B covered entity by denying the pharmacy access to its drugs and makes it unlawful for pharmaceutical manufacturers to deny or prohibit 340B drug pricing for Arkansas-based community pharmacies that receive drugs on behalf of a 340B covered entity. Id.

On September 29, PhRMA sued Arkansas in federal court for declaratory and injunctive relief, seeking to stay the enforcement of Act 1103 pending resolution of the 340B lawsuits in federal courts. This follows PhRMA’s July 2021 petition to the Arkansas Insurance Department, the agency charged with the implementation and enforcement of Act 1103, for a Declaratory Ruling relating to the state’s ability to enforce these two provisions. According to PhRMA, Arkansas effectively seeks to add Arkansas pharmacies as a sixteenth type of covered entity into a federal 340B statute that defines fifteen covered entities.

PhRMA seeks a declaration that pharmaceutical manufacturers need not offer price discounts to contract pharmacies in Arkansas because Ark. Code Ann.§ 23-92-604(c) is both preempted by the federal 340B statute (conflict and field preemption), and because it is unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause (having the practical effect of regulating commerce occurring wholly outside that State’s borders). PhRMA also requests an injunction barring Defendants from implementing and enforcing Act 1103 against PhRMA and its members.

In response to PhRMA’s petition to the Arkansas Insurance Department, the Commissioner of the Department immediately stayed the enforcement of Act 1103 for 90 days, until October 26, 2021. It remains to be seen if the Department will renew the stay after it expires later this month.

[The currently pending lawsuits in federal court are AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals v. Becerra, No. 1:21-cv-00027-LPS, 2021 WL 2458063 (D. Del. Jan. 12, 2021); Eli Lilly & Co. v. Cochran, No. 1:21-cv-00081-SEB-MJD (S.D. Ind. Jan. 12, 2021); Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC v. HHS, No. 3:21-cv-00634-FLW-LHG (D.N.J. Jan. 12, 2021); Novo Nordisk Inc. v. HHS, No. 3:21-cv-00806-FLW-LHG (D.N.J. Jan. 15, 2021); Novartis Pharms. Corp. v. Becerra, No. 1:21-cv-01479 (D.D.C. May 31, 2021); United Therapeutics Corp. v. Espinosa, No. 1:21-cv-1686-DLF (D.D.C. June 23, 2021); PhRMA v. Cochran, No. 8:21-cv-99198-PWG (D. Md. Jan. 22, 2021).]

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ABA publishes Food Law: A Practical Guide

ABA publishes Food Law: A Practical Guide

The American Bar Association has published a guide to food law that was co-authored by a number of practitioners in this growing field. The book is billed as having been “written by practicing lawyers for practicing lawyers, with a focus on information that is both practical and actionable.” The book includes chapters on federal regulation, food litigation, safety and recalls, nutrition programs, international law, use of block chain in the industry, securing the food system during the pandemic, and intellectual property. HPM’s Ricardo Carvajal contributed the chapter that provides an overview of federal regulation.

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