On May 11, 2017, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee voted in support of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, or FDARA, now formally moving through the legislative process as S. 934. The committee voted almost unanimously to move the bipartisan bill forward, with only Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voting against it. And in an interesting overlap of FDA-related news, the Agency’s brand-new Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, was also sworn in on May 11th following a speedy (albeit politically controversial and party-line) confirmation process and Senate vote. With less than a week on the job, Dr. Gottlieb is already receiving pressure from varied stakeholders to ensure the user fee legislation is enacted in a timely manner in order to avoid disrupting the Agency’s work. Continue Reading FDA User Fee Legislation Moves Forward in Senate with Multiple Policy Riders On-Board
In my last post, I introduced a series of posts that will explore FDA’s historical approach to off-label drug and device communications, how that position has evolved (or not) to the modern day, and predict where that policy might end up a few years from now. This post focuses on the history of FDA’s off-label communication and promotion policy, and while it is by no means a comprehensive history, I attempt to reveal some of the origins and early development of the Agency’s approach to off-label uses and promotion. In fact, FDA’s early position on off-label communications closely resembles the Agency’s stance on the subject today. Continue Reading The Past, Present, and Future of Government Regulation of Off-Label Communications – Part 2
Just as the public comment period for the bicameral, bipartisan discussion draft of the “FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017” ended on Friday, what we have been calling the User Fee Games got even more interesting and engaging. As we previously reported, a discussion draft of the FDA Reauthorization Act was released jointly by leaders of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee two weeks prior to that comment deadline. It now seems that the late start to the 2017 user fee legislative process – along with the rapid approach of summer and the risk of Agency layoffs if this five-year reauthorization cycle is not completed before August – has gotten everyone pushing on the accelerator a bit. Continue Reading More Bipartisan Bills Hope to Catch a Ride on the UFA Reauthorization Legislation
On April 14, 2017, leaders from the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee released the first discussion draft of the 2017 FDA user fee reauthorization bill. As we’ve been reporting (see here and here for our past coverage), these two committees have held numerous public hearings since the beginning of March to learn more about FDA’s “big 4” user fee programs – for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilars. Continue Reading Congressional Leaders Seek Input in UFA Reauthorization Draft Bill by April 28, 2017
As we noted previously in our introductory blog post on the 2017 User Fee Act (UFA) reauthorization process, the first UFA hearing on Capitol Hill was convened on March 2, 2017 by the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s (E&C) Subcommittee on Health. That hearing focused on the UFAs specific to generic drugs and biosimilar biological products. Since then, Congress has held several more UFA hearings, and multiple FDA-related bipartisan bills that could become important to this process have been introduced. So it’s time for an update on how things are going with the UFA reauthorizations. Continue Reading FDA User Fee Hearings Picking Up Steam on Capitol Hill
Since the 21st Century Cures Act became law on December 13, 2016, we have been blogging on regulatory and clinical areas affected by its provisions (see here, here and here). On March 14, 2017, FDA made further progress on its Cures Act obligations by releasing in the Federal Register a proposed list of Class II devices that may be exempted from premarket notification (or 510(k)) requirements. The list is currently open for public comment until May 15, 2017. Under the Cures Act, the final list of exempted devices must be published by July 11, 2017.
In the alphabet soup that is health and FDA law and policy (if you don’t know what we mean, are you sure you should be reading this blog?), one acronym that doesn’t get a lot of respect is “UFA.” This is the first is a series of blog posts that aim to educate and inform our readers about why the UFA acronym matters and how the UFA legislative process may be particularly significant in 2017.
UFA stands for “User Fee Act,” of which there are many flavors in this modern era – from the old-timer Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), born in 1992, to the more toddler-ish Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) that joined us in 2012. Other important UFAs for the U.S. health care system and stakeholders are the Medical Device User Fee Amendments (MDUFA), which were enacted first in 2002, and the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA) that launched at the same time as their biosimilar companion. Continue Reading Let the 2017 “UFA” Games Begin!
As we’ve previously discussed on Health Law and Policy Matters, agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) pushed through several final rules towards the end of the Obama Administration (see here and here). However, since taking office, President Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to significantly roll back Federal regulations and has taken several actions aimed at slowing and reversing agency regulatory processes, including processes at the DHHS sub-agencies CMS and FDA. These executive actions are creating a climate of uncertainty for regulated industries and their stakeholders. Continue Reading Trump Executive Orders Create Uncertainty for Health Care & Pharmaceutical Industries
From 2015 to 2016, FDA appeared to open the door to loosening the standards around intended use and off-label use, but recent rule-making and public comments suggest that FDA is becoming more sclerotic instead of flexible. However, given the political climate in the federal government and the lack of an appointed FDA commissioner, it is unclear whether FDA will hold its ground or be forced to retreat.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated a prior advisory revealing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in St. Jude Medical’s Merlin@home transmitter.
The Merlin@home transmitter is used by patients with St. Jude implantable cardiac devices to wirelessly transmit data from the patient’s cardiac device to the Merlin.net Patient Care Network. The uploaded data can then be monitored by a physician to determine whether the device is functioning properly. This past January, DHS released an advisory detailing a vulnerability that could allow an unauthorized user to remotely access a patient’s RF-enabled implanted cardiac device by altering the Merlin@home Transmitter. The altered transmitter could then be used to modify the implanted device to rapidly deplete its battery and/or administer inappropriate pacing or shocks to the patient. St. Jude quickly made an update available to patch this vulnerability.
The updated advisory extends the vulnerability to Merlin transmitters that are used by providers. These transmitters contain the same hardware and software as the models used by patients in their home, but have an additional functionality called MerlinOnDemand that allows providers to use one transmitter in their office to obtain device data from multiple patients. According to the advisory, the endpoints between the implanted device and the Merlin.net website are not verified. This makes the transmission vulnerable to a “man-in-the-middle” that would allow an attacker to remotely access the device. St. Jude has said that the MerlinOnDemand-enabled devices will receive the same patch that was provided to the home-based models.
The new vulnerability comes on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s release of final guidance on the postmarket management of cybersecurity in medical devices.