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

On January 18th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and 15 other federal agencies issued a final rule updating regulations for the protection of human research subjects, the so-called “Common Rule.”  The original Common Rule had been in place for almost 30 years, with little change despite significant research and technology advances during that time.  Further change is on the horizon for the Common Rule, as the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) includes a mandate for HHS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to harmonize long-standing differences between the Common Rule and FDA Human Subject Protection regulations.    Continue Reading The Newly Updated Common Rule is Here – And On a Collision Course With the 21st Century Cures Act

ML Strategies has published its Washington Outlook for 2017, with a collection of materials covering what to expect from the 115th Congress, spanning multiple issues and industries.

For Health Care stakeholders, ML Strategies considers priorities that have been identified by the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, and forecasts possible legislative and administrative actions to move their agendas along. We all know that the ACA is a target, and whether the chosen path forward is repeal and replace, or repair and rebuild, there are some key components of the law that are vital to a healthy marketplace.  ML Strategies outlines some strategies and tactics we might see in the coming weeks.

In addition to ACA repeal, the Health Care Outlook also discusses key Administration appointees for HHS, CMS and FDA, as well as potential policy advisors. There are also a number of Congressional acts up for reauthorization – the “UFAs” for FDA, CHIP and Medicare outpatient therapy caps – each important in its own right, but which also creates opportunities for ‘ride-along’ policy initiatives.

Finally, ML Strategies looks to what may happen to the ACA cost-sharing reductions with the House v. Burwell litigation, and considers whether Telemedicine might provide an opportunity for this new Congress to work together, across party lines.

Access the ML Strategies 2017 Outlook: Health Care here.

Access the comprehensive ML Strategies Washington Outlook for 2017 here.

 

As we enter a new era in which executive agencies are headed by President Trump, we are also faced with many other transformative changes that will affect FDA-regulated entities in a significant and lasting way. This post will outline some of our thoughts related to what could face FDA and its various stakeholders as we go forward into the great unknown.

First, since being signed into law by former President Obama on December 13th, we’ve been writing and speaking about the myriad provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. This wide-ranging law has many mandates for agency actions and new guidance documents, which FDA will be working on beginning this year, but far beyond 2017 as well. Drug, biologic, and medical device stakeholders are also awaiting the outcome of the upcoming reauthorization of all the major User Fee Acts that are “must-pass” legislation before the end of the current fiscal year (FY17 ends on September 30th), in order to ensure FDA’s continuing operations. Many other policy changes that are expected to result from the switch from a Democratic-led to a Republican-led Executive Branch, the latter also being supported by a GOP-controlled Congress, will likely have major impacts on medical product developers.  Continue Reading FDA’s Enforcement Priorities Likely to Change in 2017 and Other “Unknowable Knowns”

Next Tuesday, January 12th, Mintz Levin and ML Strategies will host the first installment of our three-part series focusing on the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures Act”).  The Cures Act represents significant legislation that will have overarching implications on medical research, product development, and drug and biologic manufacturing.

Join my Mintz Levin and ML Strategies colleagues Tom CraneEllen Janos, and Rodney Whitlock, and moderator Bethany Hills, as they provide an introduction to the Cures Act.  Specific topics for this first webinar will include:

  • The political path taken to accomplish the Act, the compromises made, and the key implementation issues facing the Trump administration
  • Health information policies related to Electronic Health Records
  • Medicare delivery reform, coverage/payment changes, and OIG authorities
  • Mental health parity and new funding opportunities for substance use disorder prevention and improved mental health access and services
  • The “sense of Congress” on telehealth expansion and changes to HIPAA

Click here to register!  For more information on the Cures Act check out our prior blog posts covering provisions related to: (i) the role of Real World Evidence; (ii) the accelerated approval pathway for regenerative medicine; and (iii) drug and biologic manufacturers’ ability to promote their products to payors and health plans through well-developed “health care economic information.

Join us in New York on Tuesday, January 24th, for a discussion on FDA priorities in 2017 and the potential impact on companies in the health care and life sciences industries.  In a joint presentation from Mintz Levin and ML Strategies, my colleagues, Bethany Hills, Joanne Hawana, and Rodney Whitlock, will discuss the following topics:

  • President Trump’s plans for FDA reform
  • Expected health care activity in the 115th Congress
  • Changing FDA regulatory priorities
  • Practical implications for industry

We hope you will join us! The program will run from 5:30 – 6:30, with a cocktail reception to follow.  Click here to register.

In the meantime, you can continue to follow our coverage of recent FDA developments here.

On Tuesday, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Act”) into law.  The Act is a massive piece of legislation that has implications for many different aspects of the interconnected medical research, product development, and health care delivery enterprises. Our colleagues have previously discussed the Act’s many provisions that aim to speed up the process of bringing new drugs and devices to market. One of the Act’s most significant amendments to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act will allow FDA to grant accelerated approval to regenerative medicine products, while also providing the Agency with wide discretion on creating new approaches to regenerative medicine. This legislative development is historic given increasing pressure from patients and other stakeholders to move regenerative medicine advancements more quickly from the lab into the clinic. Continue Reading President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act; Creates Accelerated Approval Pathway for Regenerative Medicine

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Act”) by a vote of 94 to 5.  Spearheaded by Michigan Representative Frank Upton, the bill now heads to President Obama who has promised to sign it. The Act is ambitious, and will impact a wide swath of the U.S. health care system. The Act provides, among other things:

  • $4.8 billion over 10 years to support NIH research on precision medicine, neuroscience, cancer and regenerative medicine.
  • $1 billion in state grants to increase opioid abuse prevention and treatment services, including prescription drug monitoring programs, training programs and treatment programs.
  • Substantial changes to FDA regulations to accelerate the pace of bringing pharmaceuticals and medical devices to market.
  • New obligations on the part of both FDA and industry stakeholders to implement the research initiatives and regulatory changes mentioned above.
  • Other health care initiatives addressing health information technology, vaccines, national security and health care delivery.

At 996 pages, the Act cannot be summarized in one post. Instead, we plan to analyze the various aspects of the Act in multiple posts over the coming weeks. The remainder of this post will highlight provisions that support one of the Act’s primary objectives: the acceleration of drugs and devices to market. Continue Reading Senate Passes 21st Century Cures Act, but Can It Cure an Ailing FDA?

As we’ve previously reported, FDA has recently been forced to reexamine its legal position and enforcement policies related to drug and device manufacturers’ off-label communications.  Although the Agency has for years resisted calls to loosen its long-standing prohibitions on the off-label promotion of unapproved products, it has simultaneously recognized that truthful and non-misleading scientific or medical information coming from manufacturers about their own drug, biologic, and device products plays an important role in the U.S. health care system.  This has especially been true in a climate where individual products are becoming more complex; precision medicine approaches to treating disease are gaining ground in clinical practice; and the health system is evolving into one more focused on outcomes and value-based arrangements between entities.  The expansion of First Amendment commercial speech principles by the courts over the past decade and lawsuits against FDA also have pushed the Agency to move towards the potential reform of its existing off-label policies.   Continue Reading Five Important Themes to Watch in the Reform of FDA’s Off-Label Communications Policy