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Risk Classification Process for Health Canada Device Licensing

Author reviews considerations of the risk classification process for Health Canada device licensing, including a review of Health Canada guidance documents.

Last week, I was visiting a client who was told that their device is a higher risk device classification (i.e., – Class IV) in Canada than it is in Europe (i.e., – Class IIa). Although Canada has its own device classification rules, there are many similarities with European Classifications for CE Marking. A few months ago, I posted a gap analysis (http://bit.ly/gapanalysiscmda) comparing the classification rules in the current MDD (http://bit.ly/M5MDD) to the new classification rules in the proposed European Device Regulations (http://bit.ly/EUProposal). Now, let’s review the Canadian classification rules versus the current European classification rules.

Overview of the European and Canadian Medical Device Classification Rules

There are four European and Canadian medical device classifications. Class I, IIa, IIb, and III are the European classifications, while Class I, II, III, and IV are the Canadian classifications. The Canadian classification rules are located on pages 54-57 of the Canadian Medical Device Regulations (http://bit.ly/FindCMDR).

canada class blog Risk Classification Process for Health Canada Device Licensing

There are 16 risk-based classification rules, with a similar format and organization to the 18 risk-based classification rules in the MDD. Just a glance at the table above reveals that the classification rules for Europe and Canada are similar. However, a closer comparison between the two regulations reveal that Rules 1-14 in the CMDR match-up with part or all of a corresponding European classification. Only rules 15 and 16 do not have a corresponding European classification rule.

How to Write a Classification Rationale for Health Canada

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog (http://bit.ly/riskclass) on how to write a classification rationale for CE Marking of Medical Devices. That blog made use of the European guidance document for classification of medical devices (http://bit.ly/EUClassification). For Canadian Medical Device License Applications, there is a different guidance document (http://bit.ly/CMDRClassificationGuidance). However, if you already have a European device classification, I recommend the following strategy:

  1. Identify the equivalent classification rule in the CMDR
  2. Write a classification rationale using the rule you identified in the CMDR
  3. Send your classification rationale to the Canadian Medical Device Licensing Division for verification (http://bit.ly/CanadianMDL)

If you have any trouble with step 1, you might try doing a keyword search of an electronic version. For example, the word “gases” in rule 2 of Annex IX in the MDD only appears once in the CMDR classification rules—in rule 5. An alternate approach to identifying the classification is to search Health Canada’s MDALL (http://bit.ly/CanadianMDALL) medical device licensing database for a competitor’s equivalent product. If you don’t know the name of competitor products, you can also use Health Canada’s keyword index (http://bit.ly/CanadianKeywordIndex).

Get Health Canada’s Input

Once you have written your classification rationale, then you should email the classification rationale to Health Canada’s licensing division (http://bit.ly/CanadianMDL). Help with identifying the proper device classification in the CMDR does not require paying a consultant thousands of dollars, because Health Canada will not charge you for this service, and they typically respond within 7-10 days. Their response will confirm you have identified the correct classification for your product, or you will receive an explanation of why another rule is a better choice.

Regulatory Pathway Identification

Medical Device Academy offers a standardized service for identifying the regulatory pathway for device submissions to the United States, Europe and Canada. We recommend that companies prepare a regulatory pathway document during the initial design planning stage (ISO 13485, Clause 7.3.1), because the harmonized standards identified will become your design inputs (ISO 13485, Clause 7.3.2). The Canadian pathway is always the easiest and least expensive of the three markets mentioned.

Do Not Ask Your CMDCAS Registrar

Your company’s ISO 13485 registrar should NOT attempt to participate in the above classification process. Health Canada specifically tells all CMDCAS (http://bit.ly/CMDCAS) auditors to instruct companies to contact Health Canada directly. The CMDCAS auditor is only supposed to verify that the company has a documented licensing process and documented classification rationale. Accuracy of the rationale is assessed by Health Canada’s Device Licensing Division.

You may also be interested in joining the LinkedIn Group I manage on this topic (i.e.,- CMDCAS): http://bit.ly/CMDCASLinkedInGroup.

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Posted in: Health Canada

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1 Comment

  1. Rob Packard September 20, 2013

    I posted a slightly shorter version of this blog on my LinkedIN CMDCAS Group and one of members, Daryl Wisdahl, had the following comment worth re-posting: “If you are having issues with Health Canada’s Keyword Index, you can actually start with the FDA Product Code (http://bit.ly/FDAClassification) for the device in question and then use the three ALPHA characters to search the Canadian Keyword Index (http://bit.ly/CanadianKeywordIndex) by “Preferred Name Code – PNC”. Not all devices will have the same product code for FDA and Health Canada, but this can sometimes reduce the time it takes to complete the search.”

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