This article reviews four of the top reasons for why other companies feel requesting 510k pre-sub meetings is a waste of time, but you can’t afford to.
It only takes my team 8-10 hours to prepare a 510k pre-sub request. The FDA does not charge you a cent for requesting 510k pre-sub meetings, and a pre-sub should be part of every design plan. But most companies are resistant to requesting 510k pre-sub meetings. Here are the top 4 reasons why companies tell me they don’t need to request a meeting:
It’s too late for requesting 510k pre-sub meetings
If you are less than a week away from submitting a 510k, it is too late for requesting 510k pre-sub meetings. The FDA target for scheduling a 510k pre-sub meeting is 60-75 days from the date your request was submitted. That’s 10-11 weeks. Most companies tell me that they plan to submit a 510k within weeks or a couple of months, but most of the companies take several months and frequently there is a delay that requires 6 months or more. For example, what if your device fails EMC testing, and you have to change the design and retest for both EMC and electrical safety? At best you will have an 8-week delay. If you submit request next week, and everything goes as you plan, you can always withdraw your request for the pre-sub. If you encounter a delay for any reason, suddenly it’s not too late.
Our design is not finalized yet
I believe that waiting until your design is almost complete is the number one reason why companies wait too long to request 510k pre-sub meetings. If they wait too long, then the previous reason for not requesting a meeting takes over. The ideal time to submit a pre-sub request is 75 days before you approve your design outputs (i.e., design freeze). However, very few people are that precise in their design planning and execution. You should try to target sometime after you approve your design inputs, but before you approve your design outputs. As long as you submit an update to your pre-sub request 2 weeks before the meeting, the FDA will accept it. Also, you can always schedule a date that is later than 75 days if you realize you requested the meeting too early.
We don’t want to be bound by what the FDA says in the 510k pre-sub meeting
510k pre-sub meetings are “non-binding.” That means that the FDA can change their mind, but it also means you don’t have to do everything the FDA says in a 510k pre-sub meeting. If you don’t ask a question about testing requirements, that doesn’t mean that the FDA does not have any testing requirements. The FDA knows what previous companies have submitted for testing better than you do, and they may be in the process of evaluating a draft special controls guidance. If you ask questions, you will have better insights into what the FDA expects. Understanding FDA expectations helps you write better rationales for testing or test avoidance. You also might learn about deadlines for implementation of new testing requirements that you might be able to avoid. Finally, you can ask the FDA about possible testing options you are considering if your most optimistic testing plans are denied by the FDA.
There is already a guidance document for our device
Not all device classifications have a guidance document explaining what information should be submitted in a pre-market 510k submission. However, there almost one hundred Class II Special Controls Guidance Documents. Therefore, there is a good chance that the FDA published special controls as part of the regulation for your device or as a guidance document. As part of the special controls, the FDA defines what performance testing is required for your device. If you already know what testing is required, then the value in requesting 510k pre-sub meetings is diminished. But at least three other key benefits remain.
First, you can verify that the predicate you plan to use for comparative testing is not going to be a problem. Although, the FDA can’t tell you which predicate to pick, the FDA can tell you if there is a problem with the predicate you have selected. This is especially important if the product is not currently registered and listed, because you may not know if the device was withdrawn from the market after it was cleared.
Second, not all testing standards are prescriptive. Many tests, have testing options that require you to make a decision. Input from the FDA may be valuable in making choices between various performance testing options Sometimes you even forgo testing and provide a rationale instead. FDA feedback on any rationale for not doing testing is critical to prevent delays and requests for additional information later.
Third, there are many different FDA representatives that participate in 510k pre-sub meetings. The lead reviewer will invite specialists and the branch chief to the meeting. Each of these specialists can answer questions during a pre-submission meeting that they are not able to answer during the actual review process. You also have the opportunity to get feedback from the branch chief–who has insight from all the previous devices that were cleared with your product classification. Your lead reviewer is not likely to be as experienced as the branch chief, and may only have been working at the FDA for months. Your request for the 510k pre-sub meeting will help an inexperienced lead reviewer as much as it will help your company.
Learning More about 510k Pre-sub Meetings
On Thursday, February 22 there will be a free webinar offered on the topic of 510k pre-sub meetings. We had 50 people register for the webinar in the first day it was announced, and we have already answered more than a dozen related questions. If you are planning to submit a 510k this year, this webinar will show you exactly how to prepare your own request for a 510k pre-sub. You will even receive copies of all of our templates for free.