FDA Law Update

Current Issues Affecting FDA-Regulated Companies

On Wednesday, May 7, 2021, the United States officially endorsed waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. While the United States has taken the opposite position in recent months, the administration asserts that its departure is guided, at least in part, by the goal “to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.”[1] That goal, however, is unlikely to be affected by such a waiver in the short term due to uncertainty in World Trade Organization (“WTO”) politics, ongoing shortages on raw materials and equipment, and lag-time in retrofitting potential manufacturers.…
On May 5, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a much-anticipated report, “Resiliency Roadmap for FDA Inspectional Oversight,” which provides a roadmap for the agency’s post-pandemic plans to return to a consistent state of inspection operations.  For the near term, FDA reports that it will continue to prioritize critical inspections of both domestic and foreign facilities, including preapproval inspections for priority products and inspections in reaction to recalls or other safety issues.  For the long term, the agency likely will employ the remote monitoring strategies it has implemented during the pandemic and expand its remote…
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a long-awaited final guidance document explaining its policy for conducting remote “evaluations” during COVID-19.  According to the guidance, FDA will request and conduct voluntary remote evaluations at (1) facilities where drugs and biologics are manufactured, processed, packed, or held; (2) facilities covered under the bioresearch monitoring (BIMO) program; and (3) outsourcing facilities registered under section 503B of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).  The evaluations do not replace in-person inspections, and FDA Form 483s will not be issued as a result of the inspection, but…
Utah recently signed into law SB 227, creating the Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA). The law, which is anticipated to go into effect in May 2021, is aimed at protecting genetic data collected from direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies. Companies distributing DTC tests should evaluate their current data privacy policies and practices against the obligations the new Utah law imposes on data use and protection, including user consent, data security, and access and deletion rights, to ensure they are in a position to comply with the new law.…
On Friday, March 26, 2021, FDA published a Federal Register notice,  “Fee rates under the Over-The-Counter Monograph Drug User Fee Program for Fiscal Year 2021,” announcing 2021 fee rates under its over-the-counter (OTC) monograph drug user program.  This is the first year that FDA has collected user fees from OTC drug manufacturers and submitters of OTC monograph order requests under its new authority under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  With limited exceptions, all manufacturers of OTC drugs must pay a facility fee, which exceeds $20,000, by May 10, 2021 (45 days after publication of…
Many digital health app developers offering health and wellness solutions directly to consumers may find themselves in a space unregulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). While potentially outside the scope of HIPAA, developers in this space are reminded of the risks stemming from other federal and state privacy and security laws, including unfair or deceptive abuse acts and practices (UDAAP) laws. A recent Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) settlement sheds light on the importance of accurately describing how information is collected, used, and shared.…
At the beginning of February, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) appointed Professor Kevin Fu as the first ever Acting Director of Medical Device Cybersecurity. Fu’s role also includes a one-year appointment with the Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE), a division launched in September 2020 within CDRH.  Many see this new appointment as an indication that the Agency will make cybersecurity a priority in 2021.…
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an Action Plan for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) software on January 12, 2021 that provides near-term actions to develop a regulatory framework for AI and ML-based medical devices.  The quick takeaway is that FDA will publish a draft guidance on change control plans, a key concept from its April 2019 discussion paper on AI/ML-based software devices (previously reported here). FDA also will hold a public workshop on algorithm transparency and engage its partners and stakeholders on other key initiatives, such as evaluating bias in algorithms. While the Action…
On September 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule to modify its intended use regulations.  In its current form, the regulations have created long-standing confusion as to whether mere knowledge of an unapproved use of an approved product (i.e., off-label) automatically triggers a new “intended use,” for which clearance or approval is required.  The proposed rule clarifies that knowledge alone of off-label use would not create a new intended use, but confirms the Agency’s long-standing position that “any relevant source” of evidence (including knowledge) may be used to determine intended use.  Comments on the proposed…
This week, FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., along with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health, and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services testified on Capitol Hill on the federal response to COVID-19, including the latest on vaccine development and facility inspections.  FDA also issued an updated guidance on conducting clinical trials during COVID-19, showing its willingness to continue to adapt its policies to facilitate remote patient access during COVID-19.…
On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an update on the status of its Software Precertification (Pre-Cert) Program.  It is the only public update on the program in 2020.  According to the update, FDA will continue to evaluate its Pre-Cert program, which currently is only in pilot form.  Perhaps disappointing to many companies, the update did not suggest that FDA will be adding new participants to the pilot program at this time, nor did it signal that the program would be fully operational anytime soon.…
On July 10, 2020, Commissioner Hahn of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement announcing that the agency is planning to resume on-site inspections of domestic facilities during the week of July 20.  The Agency has developed a “COVID-19 Advisory Level” risk-based rating system to help assess where inspections may safely resume.  Under the rating system, facilities in areas where cases of COVID-19 are under control can expect to be inspected sooner than facilities in areas where COVID-19 cases are on the rise.…
FDA issued new guidance on June 19, 2020, advising manufacturers of drugs, biologics, and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) on manufacturing controls to prevent contamination of drugs with SARS-CoV-2, including performing risk assessments to determine whether the virus poses new risks to drug products, or to the manufacturing facilities or processes that produce them.  FDA is not aware of any drugs that have been contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, but the guidance provides the agency’s expectations for limiting potential contamination.  While the FDA has not yet resumed routine facility inspections, and therefore likely will not actively monitor implementation of the risk assessments (or…
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been developing and shifting its guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, during COVID-19.  The Agency has articulated its guidelines for PPE in one of two ways: (1) through guidance documents and (2) through issuance of “umbrella” Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) that cover certain product types.  EUAs have the benefit of potentially providing manufacturers, distributors, and users of PPE with broad liability protections under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act (so long as the requirements and conditions of the EUA and the PREP Act declaration are met).…
Immunity under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act is a moving target for government contractors and other companies manufacturing or distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 public health response. We wrote previously about new liability protections afforded to manufacturers and distributors of certain face masks approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the later expanded scope of that protection provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act and amended PREP Act declaration by Department of Health and Human Services. Until recently, the…
On May 4, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its enforcement policy on antibody tests for COVID-19.  The revised policy requires developers of commercial antibody tests to submit a request for emergency use authorization (EUA) to FDA.  Under the previous policy, commercial test developers could distribute their tests without FDA authorization.  The change in policy reflects growing concerns over the reliability of antibody tests currently on the market.  The policy shift also suggests that manufacturers of medical supplies subject to relaxed enforcement policies during COVID-19 should monitor policy developments to confirm the regulatory status of their products.…