Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In 2017, FDA issued only 44 Warning Letters to medical device establishments. Of those, 11 were related to pre-market issues, which include investigational device exemption violations or lack of approval or clearance. Only 33 of the device Warning Letters in 2017 were issued for cGMP, Quality System, or MDR violations, a remarkable figure since FDA regularly sent over 100 device regulation compliance Warning Letters every year from 2011 to 2015.

One might expect that fewer Warning Letters means fewer inspections, but FDA’s inspection database shows that the number of device compliance inspections has remained fairly consistent from 2011 through 2017. The number of inspections has certainly decreased from a high of 1,859 in 2011, but FDA conducted 1,624 device compliance inspections in 2014, 1,533 in 2015, 1,539 in 2016, and 1,551 in 2017. Clearly, the sudden drop off in Warning Letters has been much steeper than the modest decrease in inspections.

What could be driving this decrease in Warning Letters? I briefly explore three possibilities below. Continue Reading Drop in Warning Letters for Medical Devices Raises Interesting Questions About the Industry

Congress will continue its work in addressing the opioid crisis this week with a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. There were reports last week that Congress will also consider legislation around telemedicine, which is sure to capture stakeholders attention. The Administration is also going to take another look at drug pricing which is setting the stage for another busy work period. We cover this and more in this week’s preview, which you can find here.

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its latest report on compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). As we discussed in a prior post, the DSCSA requires enhanced security and accountability for prescription drugs throughout the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain, with phased-in obligations for the various trading partners over 10 years, beginning with the law’s passage in November 2013. Covered trading partners include manufacturers, repackagers, wholesale distributors, and dispensers.

The OIG’s most recent study focuses on dispensers of various sizes and types, including independent retail pharmacies, chain retail pharmacies, and small and large hospital pharmacies. Of the 40 dispensers interviewed, the agency found that all them had received at least some drug product tracing information from their trading partners, and 26 of these dispensers received all required elements of this information. The remaining 14 dispensers were missing a few of the required elements. Two of the dispensers were unaware of the DSCSA. The following table summarizes the missing information:

The OIG also found that dispensers received drug product tracing information in a variety of transmission modes and formats. The agency believes this is a result of dispensers and their trading partners using different systems rather than adopting a standardized way to exchange this information. Neither the DSCSA nor FDA guidance requires a uniform transmission mode or format for the exchange of drug product tracing information.

To facilitate dispensers’ compliance with the DSCSA, the OIG recommends that FDA offer educational outreach to dispensers where appropriate. Specifically, the agency recommends that FDA provide education to ensure that dispensers understand their responsibilities to receive complete drug product tracing information from trading partners before taking ownership of drug products.

For its part, FDA concurred with the OIG’s recommendation and intends to review its dispenser communications plan and identify and create opportunities to work with dispenser-centric trade and professional organizations to provide additional education and outreach. FDA also noted in its response that, as the last trading partner in the supply chain before a drug product is dispensed to a patient, dispensers play a vital role in ensuring patient safety, making it essential that they understand their product tracing responsibilities under DSCSA.

We will continue to monitor and report on the industry’s implementation of the DSCSA, including the OIG’s planned study of the extent to which drug product tracing information can be used to trace drugs through the entire supply chain.

Mintz Levin and ML Strategies will host the 3rd Annual Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Industry Summit on May 8, 2018!  This year’s summit will take place in Boston and we are thrilled to announce that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will be the keynote speaker.  The Summit brings together stakeholders and thought leaders to discuss current hot topics facing manufacturers, PBMs, payors, pharmacies, and other providers.  This year’s Summit will include sessions on:

  • The evolving drug supply chain – distruptor models and the Amazon effect
  • Addressing drug pricing and supply chain economics – government investigations and ERISA litigation
  • The uncertain state of the 340B program
  • Government enforcement targeting financial relationships
  • Combatting the opioid crisis

For additional information on the Summit, including the full agenda and registration information, please visit our event website.

Although the options for accelerated FDA pathways have recently expanded, the current political climate has increased scrutiny of expedited approvals. Next week, my colleague Bethany Hills will be moderating a panel discussion in our Boston office about the realities of pursuing an accelerated pathway. Panelists from J&J Innovation, Synlogic, and Analysis Group will focus on the risks and potential rewards of the shorter time to market.

Topics to be covered include:

  • When to consider an alternative pathway to approval
  • Risks – including the chance of FDA denial
  • Market perceptions — increased value, rising stock prices
  • Realities of the pathways
  • Clinical and data risks
  • Pairing exclusivity and accelerated pathways
  • Finance theory on risk and stock pricing

The event will take place next Thursday, March 29th at 5:00 PM in our Boston office (registration starts at 4:30). For more information or to register or the event, please click here.

On February 22, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the tissue graft manufacturer MiMedx Goup, Inc. and its failure to report payments to physicians under CMS’s Open Payments Program established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, Sec. 6002, amending Social Security Act Sec. 1128G), also known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA).  MiMedx executives claim that such reporting is unnecessary because the company’s products are tissues, which are not explicitly included in the regulatory definition of “covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply” to which the Open Payments Program apply (42 C.F.R. 403.902). As a result of falling outside this definition, MiMedx argues that it is not an “applicable manufacturer” required to disclose payments to physicians and teaching hospitals.  MiMedx’s product-specific reasoning aside, the company’s argument brings up an interesting point about the evolution of FDA-regulated products and the enforcement of the Open Payments Program requirements: Does the PPSA, and its corresponding regulations, require manufacturers of tissue-based therapies to disclose payment information? Continue Reading Are HCT/Ps a Dark Spot in the Sunshine Act Requirements?

Last week, Mintz Levin released an Advisory reminding holders of New Drug Applications (NDAs) and Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) of the February 14, 2018, deadline to submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Advisory summarizes the notification requirements as well as the risks associated with failing to provide the required information, including removal of a manufacturer’s drug products from the active section of FDA’s Orange Book. The data submission requirements are part of the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA), which aims to improve FDA’s ability to track drug products in the commercial marketplace and represents one of Congress’ attempts to control drug pricing and address patient access issues for prescription drugs.

It has been a few months since we reported on Federal Court wranglings with the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, or BPCIA, which created the nation’s abbreviated marketing pathway for biosimilar products.

After the Supreme Court issued its first ruling on the BPCIA in June 2017 (see our prior post here), it sent the dispute between Amgen and Sandoz back to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to resolve the question of whether Amgen’s claims asserted under California law, including a claim of unfair competition, were preempted under the BPCIA. Continue Reading Biosimilar Market Developments Continue Apace in 2018

Rules for clinical research are undergoing major changes in both the United States and the European Union. In the United States, the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law on December 13, 2016, creates a new paradigm for modern trial design and clinical evidence development, and the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed significant revisions to the Common Rule, which governs human subject research. In the European Union, imminent changes to the clinical trial regulation No. 536/2014 and general data protection regulation could substantially impact the administration of clinical trials in European countries. The changes will greatly affect the conduct of clinical trials by sponsors and clinical researchers all over the world.

To find out more about these changes and how to address them in your trials, join our two-part upcoming webinar, “Conducting Multi-Jurisdictional Trials: Understanding Changes in the US and EU.” The first part, on January 24 at 11 AM EST, will feature Bethany Hills, Dianne Bourque, and Benjamin Zegarelli from Mintz Levin’s FDA practice group, who will share insights on changes that will impact the design and conduct of clinical trials in the US. The second part, on February 7 at 11 AM EST, will feature Laura Liguori and Elisa Stefanini from Portolano Cavallo, who will cover the important changes to clinical trial administration in the EU and Italy.

Register now!

This is the third installment of our year-in-review series covering major developments at FDA.  While the previous two installments, which can be found here and here, pertain to FDA actions on drugs and biologics, this post will address developments related to “traditional” medical devices and diagnostics (i.e., not software devices).

The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has had a busy year in 2017, and its activities appear to be in line with the general FDA strategy described in our prior installments: greater access to novel treatments through more consistent and efficient premarket review processes.  We have seen guidance this year establishing premarket threshold criteria to ensure that a particular review process is appropriate, as well as guidance that may help speed up premarket review.  CDRH also made significant progress developing new pilot programs as part of the Case for Quality initiative by establishing ground-breaking pilot programs and regulatory pathways for new technologies such as next generation sequencing (NGS) tests. Continue Reading FDA 2017 Year in Review: Refining Medical Device Pathways and Introducing Pilot Programs to Promote Quality