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Medical Device Shortage Reporting

The FDA and Health Canada both have executive-level orders requiring medical device shortage reporting or supply-chain disruptions.

In a previous article, we discussed supply-chain disruptions and mentioned that there might be medical device shortage reporting requirements if that disruption causes a market shortage of the manufactured device. Both the United States and Canada have reporting requirements for supply disruptions or the market’s ability to meet the demand of specific types of devices.

Both the U.S. FDA and Health Canada have executive-level orders that require reporting of shortages or disruptions to the supply of medical devices deemed necessary for the COVID-19 Health Emergency. There is some overlap, but each country is monitoring and experiencing shortages and disruptions of different devices.

Where did medical device shortage reporting responsibilities come from?

Check 21 CFR 820, ISO 13485:2016, and even peek at SOR 98-282 and see if you can find your obligations for reporting. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Not much in there, right? Adverse events, complaints, etc., but not market shortages.
Medical device shortage reporting is specific to health emergencies. The U.S. FDA and Health Canada happen to be two authorities having jurisdiction with reporting requirements for shortages concerning the COVID-19 Health Emergency. However, there may be others, so having your organization’s regulatory affairs manager verify the reporting requirements for the markets in which you are engaged might not be bad.

U.S. FDA 506J reporting-

fda logo Medical Device Shortage Reporting
U.S. FDA logo

In the United States, an Amendment to the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act requires regulatory reporting by medical device manufacturers to the U.S. FDA. It is sometimes called 506J reporting for the Section of the U.S. FD&C Act where it is located.

You will find the statutory requirements outlined within 21 USC 356J.

21 USC 356j screenshot from uscode.house .gov cropped title Medical Device Shortage Reporting
21 USC 356J Discontinuance or interruption in the production of medical devices

For the full text read, 21 USC 356j: Discontinuance or interruption in the production of medical devices. (Interestingly enough, the website where this information is available is not an HTTPS site, so visit at your own discretion).

http://uscode.house.gov/browse.xhtml

What devices are subject to 506J reporting?

There are two types of devices that the FDA is monitoring. “Critical” devices and an FDA-published list of devices for which COVID-19 is causing a higher than expected demand.

The FDA has released a guidance document that contains criteria for what is considered to be a “Critical Device”. This includes devices such as those used during surgery, emergency medical care, and those intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19.

fda guidance criteria for 506j critical devices Medical Device Shortage Reporting
Screenshot of the Critical Device Criteria for 506J reporting

There is also a published list of concerned devices that the FDA is specifically monitoring. The FDA website lists these devices by product code, but include the following device types;

  • Clinical Chemistry Products
  • Dialysis-Related Products
  • General ICU/Hospital Products
  • Hematology Products
  • Infusion Pumps and Related Accessories
  • Microbiology Products
  • Needles and Syringes
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Sterilization Products
  • Testing Supplies and Equipment
  • Ventilation-Related Products
  • Vital Sign Monitoring
fda 506j shortage list screenshot Medical Device Shortage Reporting
Screenshot of the FDA Shortage List

Understandably this process may not be intuitive, and for this, the FDA has released a guidance document that addresses;

  • Who must make the notification
  • When you should make a notification
  • What information needs to be included within your 506J notification
  • How to make a notification, and
  • Penalties for failure to make a notification

The referenced product codes may not be an all-inclusive list or entirely up to date. The best suggestion for full compliance is to go straight to the source of the regulation, in part because noncompliance can result in enforcement action from the FDA. If you think that your device might require notification to the FDA but isn’t in the reference table, you should contact the FDA for notification clarification. Below is the quote from the FDA website, and it includes the contact email for asking these specific questions to ‘the agency.’

“If a device type is not included in this table, but you believe it requires a notification under section 506J of the FD&C Act, or if you have questions regarding the device types in this table, you should contact FDA at CDRHManufacturerShortage@fda.hhs.gov and include “Question” in the subject line of the email.”

Link to the FDA Guidance Document for 506J Reporting- HERE

How to make a 506J report to the U.S. FDA?

The FDA accepts 506J reports in multiple ways. For example, you may use the 506J Reporting web form or submit a notification by email directly to (Include Email Here). In addition, Medical Device Academy has developed a Work Instruction and Form to determine if your company is experiencing a reportable discontinuance or meaningful disruption in manufacturing a medical device as well as compiling the report for submission.

There are a few methods of notification, a web form for individual notifications and spreadsheet options for multiple notifications at once, or emailing a report directly to the FDA reporting email included below;

CDRHManufacturerShortage@fda.hhs.gov

fda 506j webform screenshot Medical Device Shortage Reporting
Screenshot of the FDA 506J reporting Webforms from https://fdaprod.force.com/shortages

It is for this process that Medical Device Academy developed WI-010 506J Shortage Reporting to the U.S. FDA. This work instruction and associated form, FRM-053 506J Reporting Form are designed to walk you through the process of determining reportability and compiling the information necessary to either complete the webform or email the report directly to the shortage reporting email.

Medical Device Shortage Reporting to Health Canada

health canada logo sante canada 1024x224 1 Medical Device Shortage Reporting
Health Canada logo

Rather than discontinuance and disruption of manufacture, Health Canada is monitoring for shortages of specific devices. Therefore, Health Canada wants Medical Device Shortage Reports regardless of the reason for the shortage. It also shows that this is not identical reporting of the same conditions to two different authorities. Health Canada will also accept reports from Importers because the frame of reference is Canada’s supply of medical devices concerning Canada’s needs.

As an Authority Having Jurisdiction, Health Canada also has reporting requirements for medical device shortage reporting of specific types of medical devices. Health Canada is also an independent authority that uses a different device classification system than the U.S. FDA.

The table below shows the device types by their classification level that HC requires supply chain disruption notifications for. This information is current as of September 5th, 2021, and the link below will take you to the HC website page for the most up-to-date list.

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/shortages/covid19-mandatory-reporting.html

Class I Medical Devices
Masks (surgical, procedure or medical masks) – Level 1, 2, 3 (ATSM)
N95 respirators for medical use
KN95 respirators for medical use
Face shields
Gowns (isolation or surgical gowns) – Level 2, 3 and 4
Gowns (chemotherapy gowns)
Class II Medical Devices
Ventilators (including bi-level positive airway pressure or BiPAP machines, and continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines)
Infrared thermometers
Digital thermometers
Oxygen Concentrators
Pulse Oximeters (single measurement)
Aspirators/suction pumps (portable and stationary)
Laryngoscopes
Endotracheal tubes
Manual resuscitation bags (individually or part of a kit)
Medical Gloves – Examination and Surgical (Nitrile, Vinyl)
Oxygen Delivery Devices
Class III Medical Devices
Ventilators (including bi-level positive airway pressure or BiPAP machines)
Pulse Oximeters (continuous monitoring)
Vital Signs Monitors
Dialyzers
Infusion Pumps
Anesthesia Delivery Devices
Class IV Medical Devices
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Devices
List of ‘Specified Devices’ that Health Canada is monitoring for shortage reporting

One of the things that Health Canada does an excellent job of is defining its expectations. In the Second Interim Order Respecting Drugs, Medical Devices and Foods for a Special Dietary Purpose in Relation to COVID-19, it is explained the Manufacturers or Importers should report to the Minister actual or expected shortages of the device, OR components, accessories, or parts. These notifications must be made within 5-days of becoming aware of the shortage or the anticipated shortage date. Update reports must be made within 2-days of becoming aware of new information regarding the shortage, and a closing report must be made within 2-days of the end of the shortage.

(This link is to the HC website for the 2nd Interim Order referenced above)

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drug-medical-device-food-shortages/interim-order-2021.html

How to make a shortage report to Health Canada?

These reports are submitted online through the Health Canada Website. They have an entire section dedicated to medical device shortages, and the reporting links can be found there (Link here). If you have any questions or are on the fence about notification, you can email Health Canada at MD.shortages-penurie.de.IM@canada.ca.

Inkedhc reporting shortages overview screenshot edited LI 1024x384 Medical Device Shortage Reporting
Health Canada Webforms for reporting a shortage and the end of a shortage

The webform for reporting a shortage is the same webform that is used for providing update reports to Health Canada as well. This is both for manufacturers of specified medical devices as well as importers.

Posted in: FDA, Health Canada

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eSTAR draft guidance is here, and wicked eSubmitter is dead.

I hated the the FDA eSubmitter template which was discontinued May 30, 2021. Finally we have eSTAR draft guidance for the new eSTAR template.

eSTAR draft guidance button eSTAR draft guidance is here, and wicked eSubmitter is dead.

History of 510k electronic submissions

The FDA has experimented with a multitude of pilot 510k submission programs over the years to streamline and improve the 510k submission content, formatting, and to facilitate a faster review process. The Turbo 510k program was one of the first successful pilot programs. In 2012 I wrote one of my first blogs about how to improve the 510k process. In September 2018, the FDA launched the “Quality in 510k Review Program Pilot” for certain devices using the eSubmitter electronic submission template. The goal of the this pilot program was to enable electronic submissions instead of requiring manufacturers to deliver USB flash drives to the FDA Document Control Center (DCC). I hated the eSubmitter template, and the FDA finally discontinued availability of the eSubmitter template on May 30, 2021. During the past 15 years, the FDA gradually streamlined the eCopy process too. Originally we had to submit one complete hardcopy, averaging 1,200 pages per submission, and one CD containing an electronic “eCopy.” Today, the current process involves a single USB flash drive and a 2-page printed cover letter, but today’s eCopy must still be shipped by mail or courier to the DCC.

eSTAR Pilot Program is Launched

During the 15-year evolution of the FDA eCopy, CDRH was trying to develop a reliable process for electronic submissions of a 510k. CBER, the biologics division of the FDA, has already eliminated the submission of eCopy submissions and now 100% of biologics submissions must be submitted through an electronic submissions gateway (ESG). In February 2020, CDRH launched a new and improved 510k template through the electronic Submission Template And Resource (eSTAR) Pilot Program. The eSTAR templates include benefits of the deceased eSubmitter template, but CDRH has incorporated additional benefits:

  • the templates use Adobe Acrobat Pro instead of a proprietary application requiring training;
  • support for images and messages with hyperlinks;
  • support for creation of Supplements and Amendments;
  • availability for use on mobile devices as a dynamic PDF;
  • ability to add comments to the PDF; and
  • the content and logic mirrors checklists used by CDRH reviewers.

Medical Device Academy’s experience with the eSTAR Templates

Every time the FDA has released a new template for electronic submissions we have obtained a copy and tried populating the template with content from one of our 510k submissions. Unfortunately, all of the templates have been slower to populate that the Word document templates that our company uses every day. On May 16 we conducted an internal training for our team on the eSTAR submission templates, and we published that training as a YouTube Video (see embedded video below). Then nine days later the FDA released updates to the eSTAR templates (version 0.7). The new eSTAR templates are available for non-IVD and IVD products (ver 0.7 updated May 27, 2021).

Sharon Morrow submitted our first eSTAR template to the FDA in August and we experienced no delays with the 510k submission during the initial uploading to the CDHR database, there was no RTA screening process, and CDRH did not identify any issues during their technical screening process. Shoron’s first eSTAR submission is now in interactive review, which is a better outcome than 95%+ of our 510k submissions. I have several other eSTAR submissions that are almost ready to submit as well. The other 510k consultants on our team are also working on their first eSTAR submissions.

Finally the CDRH releases an FDA eSTAR draft guidance

On September 29, 2021 the FDA released the new eSTAR draft Guidance for 510k submissions. This is a huge milestone because there have not been any draft guidance documents created for pilot programs. The draft indicates that the comment period will last 60 days (i.e. until November 28, 2021). However, the draft also states that the guidance will not be finalized until a date for requiring electronic submissions (i.e. submission via an ESG) is identified. The draft indicates that this will be no later than September 30, 2022. Once the guidance is finalized, there will be a transition period of at least one year where companies may submit via an ESG or by physical delivery to the FDA DCC.

Are there any new format or content requirements in the FDA eSTAR draft guidance?

There are no new format or content requirements in the eSTAR draft guidance, but the eSTAR template itself has several text boxes that must be filled in with summary information that is not specified in the guidance for format and content of a 510k. The information requested for the text boxes is a brief summary of non-confidential information contained in the attachments of the submission. Therefore, these boxes can information that would normally be in the overview summary documentst that are typically included at the beginning of each section of a 510k. If your overview documents do not already have this information, then you may have some additional work to do in order to complete the eSTAR templates. An example of one of these text boxes is provided below:

Summary of electrical mechanical and thermal testing eSTAR draft guidance is here, and wicked eSubmitter is dead.

Another example of additional content required by the eSTAR templates is references to page numbers. Normally the FDA reviewer has to search the submission for information that is required in their regulatory review checklist. In the new templates the submitter is now asked to enter the page numbers of each attachment where specific information can be found. The following is an example of this type of request for a symbols glossary:

Reference to symbols glossary in labeling eSTAR draft guidance is here, and wicked eSubmitter is dead.

Are there any changes to the review timelines for a 510k in the eSTAR draft guidance?

The eSTAR draft guidance indicates that a technical screening will be completed in 15 calendar days instead of conducting a RTA screening. I believe that the technical screening is less challenging than the RTA screening, but the FDA has not released a draft of the technical screening criteria or a draft checklist. I would imagine that the intent was to streamline the process and reduce the workload of reviewers performing a technical screening, but we only have guesses regarding the substance of the technical review and so far our performance is 100% passing (i.e. 1 of 1). The next step in the 510k review process is a substantive review. Timelines for the substantive review are not even mentioned in the new draft guidance, but the FDA usually has the review clock details in Table 1 (MDUFA III performance goals) and Table 2 (MDUFA IV performance goals) of the FDA guidance specific to “Effect on FDA Review Clock and Goals.” In both tables, the goal is 60 calendar days, and our first eSTAR submission completed the substantive review in 60 days successfully. The 180-day deadline for responding to an additional information (AI) request has not changed in the eSTAR draft guidance, but our first submission is now interactive review. I believe this suggests that companies may have a higher likelihood of having an interactive review with their CDRH lead reviewer instead of being placed upon AI Hold, but we won’t have enough submissions reviewed by the FDA to be sure until the end of Q1 2022.

Register for our new webinar on the FDA eSTAR draft guidance

We hosted a live webinar on Thursday, October 21, 2021 @ Noon EDT. The webinar was approximatley 37 minutes in duration. In this webinar we shared the lessons learned from our initial work with the eSTAR template. Anyone that registers for our webinar will also receive a copy of our table of contents template that we updated for use with the eSTAR templates. Unlike a 510k eCopy, an eSTAR template does not require a table of contents but we still use a table of contents to communicate the status of the 510(k) project with our clients. Finally, we reviewed the eSTAR draft guidance in detail. If you would like to receive our new eSTAR table of content template and an invitation to our live webinar, please complete the registration form below.

About the Author

Rob Packard 150x150 eSTAR draft guidance is here, and wicked eSubmitter is dead.
Robert Packard is a regulatory consultant with 25+ years of experience in the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. He is a graduate of UConn in Chemical Engineering. Robert was a senior manager at several medical device companies—including the President/CEO of a laparoscopic imaging company. His Quality Management System expertise covers all aspects of developing, training, implementing, and maintaining ISO 13485 and ISO 14971 certification. From 2009-2012, he was a lead auditor and instructor for one of the largest Notified Bodies. Robert’s specialty is regulatory submissions for high-risk medical devices, such as implants and drug/device combination products for CE marking applications, Canadian medical device applications, and 510(k) submissions. The most favorite part of his job is training others. He can be reached via phone 802.258.1881 or email. You can also follow him on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.

Posted in: 510(k), eSTAR

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MDUFA IV – FDA User Fee Increase – Strategic Implications

This article identifies the strategic implications of the FDA user fee increases resulting from MDUFA IV starting in FY 2018.

FY 2018 MDUFA Fees MDUFA IV   FDA User Fee Increase   Strategic Implications

You didn’t know the FDA user fee increased?

In August, the FDA publishes the new FDA user fee schedule for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Last year the FDA published an updated small business guidance document in early August that included the fee schedule. This year, the release of the FY 2018 FDA user fee schedule was delayed until the end of August, because the re-authorization of user fees was not approved until August 18, 2017.

The MDUFA IV user fee schedule was negotiated in October of 2016, and the new user fee schedule proposed to increase the user fees to $999.5 million. That negotiated plan called for an increase in standard fees for 510k submissions while keeping small business fees lower. The final enacted MDUFA IV user fees follow this plan. There is a significant difference between PMA fees and 510k fees in the new fee schedule. There was a 33% increase for all PMA-related standard and small business fees. However, standard 510k fees increased by 125%, while small business fees for a 510k increased by 13%. The establishment registration fees increased by 37%, and there is still no discounted registration fee for small businesses. Finally, the biggest change is there will now be a fee for De Novo applications.

Implications of the De Novo FDA user fee increase

Congress authorized the MDUFA III fees in 2012 for five years, and there were no fees associated with De Novo applications. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) also streamlined the De Novo application process. The purpose of having no fees, and for streamlining the process, was to encourage medical device innovation. However, only 40% of De Novo application reviews were completed within 150 days during 2015 and 2016. The balance of the applications required 200 to 600+ days to complete. Negotiations between the FDA and industry in 2016 resulted in an agreement to trade an increase in FDA user fees for a decrease in the review time required for 510k clearance. However, the FDA also committed to decreasing the De Novo application review time to less than 150 days as follows:

De Novo application decision goals for MDUFA IV 1024x118 MDUFA IV   FDA User Fee Increase   Strategic Implications
Unfortunately, the agreed FDA user fee for De Novo applications in MDUFA IV for FY 2018 is $93,229 as a standard fee and $23,307 for small businesses. During the past five years, during MDUFA III, companies that felt they had a potential De Novo application would try to persuade the FDA that a borderline 510k submission should be a De Novo application instead. However, under MDUFA IV, you will be more likely to persuade the FDA that a borderline classification should be considered for a 510k submission instead of a De Novo application.

Also, you should plan your De Novo application more carefully than you might have for a free application. Pre-submission meeting requests should always be submitted during the development process, and these pre-sub requests should be submitted at least 90 days before your design freeze. Special consideration should also be devoted to risk analysis and gathering preliminary data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the risk controls you select to ensure that the clinical benefits of your device outweigh the residual risks of the device after implementing risk controls. Ideally, you will gather enough evidence to create a draft special controls guidance document to submit to the FDA as a supplement to your pre-submission meeting.

If you are planning a De Novo application for FY 2018, you should expect your FDA reviewer to pay special attention to ensuring that there are no unnecessary delays in the review process. You should also monitor the FDA’s new final guidance webpage for the release of a final guidance document for De Novo applications. The draft guidance was released on August 14, 2014. Creating final guidance will probably be a priority for FY 2018.

Implications of the 510k FDA user fee increase

The standard FDA user fee for a 510k increased 125% from $4,690 to $10,566. However, the absolute dollar amount of a 510k submission is still less than the cost of biocompatibility testing or sterilization validation. Therefore, the increase should not significantly decrease the number of submissions. However, the small business fee has only been increased by 13%. Therefore, if you are a small business (i.e., income < $100 million), you should complete an application for small business qualification as soon as you can (i.e., October 1, 2017) to make sure that you are eligible for the discounted fee when you submit your next 510k submission. If you need help preparing your small business qualification form, there will be a webinar on this topic Friday, September 8, 2017.

When you are planning a 510k submission, you should also determine if your device product classification is eligible for third party review. In the past, the increased cost of the third party review made submission of a 510k to a third party reviewer unattractive. However, the fees for third-party reviews range from $9,000 to $12,000 typically. Therefore, there may be no difference in the fee for a third party review unless your company is a qualified small business.

Implications of MDUFA IV FDA user fee increase

The increase in the annual establishment registration fee is 37% for medical device firms to $4,624. If you are already registered as a medical device firm, you should increase your annual budget for the establishment registration fee accordingly. If you are about to launch a new product, remember that you are required to register and list your product within 30 days of distribution of your product. Therefore, if shipments are going to begin in September, you don’t need to register until October (i.e., after the start of the new fiscal year). Therefore, you may be able to avoid paying the FY 2017 establishment registration and only pay the FY 2018 establishment registration. This would not be the case for foreign firms that need to import the product prior to distribution.

What you can do about MDUFA IV fee increases now.

You may not be able to change the user fee schedule for FY 2018, but there are three things you can do now to improve your situation. First, if you are a small business, you can speak to your accounting department and get them to provide a copy of the FY 2016 tax return so that you can complete the small business qualification form on October 1. Second, you should contact Regulatory Technology Services and the Third Party Review Group to obtain a quote for a third-party review of your 510k submission instead of submitting directly to the FDA. Third, you should add a reminder to your calendar for August 1, 2018, to start reviewing the FDA website and other sources for an FY 2019 FDA user fee schedule.

Learning how to submit a small business qualification form

If you have not completed a small business qualification form before, you can learn how to prepare your application for small business qualification by registering for my webinar on Friday, September 8, 2017.

Posted in: 510(k), FDA

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Software Design Validation – FDA Requirements

What are the FDA software design validation requirements for software as a medical device (SaMD) and software in a medical device (SiMD).qsit Software Design Validation   FDA Requirements

If your product has software, then the investigator is instructed by the FDA QSIT Inspection Manual to consider reviewing software validation. Since inadequate software validation causes many quality problems with devices, you should be shocked if an investigator doesn’t review the software validation of a device containing software. Software-containing devices are also the only devices that manufacturers are required to submit a risk analysis for when submitting premarket notifications (i.e., 510k submissions).

Software Design Validation

Validation confirms that a device meets the user needs. Software validation is no different. Unfortunately, “software design validation” is also the term that we use to mean software design and development–which includes software verification activities and software validation activities. The software verification activities consist of unit testing, integration testing, and system testing. In software verification, we are verifying that each requirement of the software design specification (SDS) meets the requirements of the software requirements specification (SRS). In contrast, software validation involves simulated use or actual use testing of the software to confirm that it meets the user needs of the software. The “device” is the final complete software program in the operating environment in which it is intended to be used (i.e., operating system and hardware), and the “user needs” may be defined as system-level requirements in the SRS or as the intended purpose of the software in the software description.

To facilitate the validation of software, a traceability matrix is typically used to facilitate the construction of validation protocols. The traceability matrix will identify each requirement in the left-hand column of the matrix. The columns to the right of the requirements should include the following:

  1. hazard identification
  2. the potential severity of harm
  3. P1 – the probability of occurrence
  4. P2 – the probability of occurrence resulting in harm
  5. risk controls
  6. design outputs or references to the code modules that are responsible for each requirement
  7. references to verification and validation testing for each risk control
  8. estimation of residual risks
  9. risk/benefit analysis of each risk and overall risk
  10. traceability to information disclosed to users and patients or residual risks

Since the failure of each module can easily result in multiple failure modes, the above approach to documenting design requirements and risk analysis is generally more effective than using an FMEA. This approach also has the benefit of lending itself to assessing risk each time new complaints, service reports, and other post-market surveillance information is gathered.

The use of a traceability matrix also lends itself to the early stages of debugging software modules and unit validation. Each software design requirement will typically have a section of code (i.e., a software module) that is associated with it. That module will be validated initially as a standalone unit operation to verify that it performs the intended function. In addition to verifying the correct function, the software validation protocol should also verify that the embedded risk controls catch incorrect inputs to the module for that module. The correct error code should be generated, and applicable alarms should be triggered.

Finally, after each requirement has been verified, the entire software program must be validated as well. When changes are made, the module and program as a whole must be re-validated. Inspectors and auditors will specifically review changes made in recent versions to verify that revalidation of the entire program was performed–not just unit testing. You must also comply with IEC 62304, medical device software – software lifecycle processes. This is required for CE Marking as a harmonized standard and recognized by the US FDA. One of the implications of applying IEC 62304 is that you must consider the risk of using software of unknown pedigree or provenance (SOUP).

Software Risk Analysis

Each requirement of the software design validation requirements document will typically have a risk associated with it if the software fails to perform that requirement. These risks are quantified concerning the severity of harm and the probability of occurrence of harm. The likelihood of occurrence of harm has two factors: P1 and P2, as defined in Annex E of ISO 14971:2007 (see our updated risk management training).

P1 is the probability of occurrence, and for software, we have two factors. First, the situation must occur that will trigger a failure of the software. Second, does the software have a design risk control that prevents harm or provides a warning of the potential for harm? P2 is the probability that occurrence will result in harm; P2 has one factor. P2 is determined by evaluating the likelihood that failure will result in harm if the risk control is not 100% effective.

An investigator reviewing the risk assessment should verify that risk has been estimated for each software design requirement. There should be harm identified for each software design requirement, or the traceability matrix should indicate that no harm can result from failure to meet the software design requirement. Next, the risk assessment should indicate what the risk controls are for each requirement identified with the potential for harm. In accordance with ISO 14971, design risk controls should be implemented first to eliminate the possibility of harm. Wherever it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of harm, a protective measure (i.e., an alarm) should be used.

Each risk control must be verified for effectiveness as part of the software validation. Also, the residual risk for each potential harm is subject to a risk/benefit analysis in accordance with EN ISO 14971:2012, Annex ZA Deviation #4. The international version, ISO 14971:2007 (which is recognized by the US FDA and Health Canada), allows companies to limit a risk/benefit analysis to only unacceptable risks. Therefore, the European requirement (i.e., EN ISO 14971:2012) is more stringent. Companies that intend to CE Mark medical devices should comply with the EN version of the risk management standard instead of the international version for risk management.

Posted in: FDA

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7 Steps to writing an FDA 483 response

Responding in 15 business days is one of 7 steps on how to write an FDA 483 response, but do you know what should be in your response?7 steps fda 483 blog 7 Steps to writing an FDA 483 responseWhen an FDA investigator has an inspection observation, the investigator issues an FDA 483. “Form 483” is the FDA form number. If your company receives an FDA 483, it is critical to understand how to write your FDA 483 response in order to avoid a Warning Letter. In the words of a former FDA investigator, “Many, many times I have seen an [Official Action Indicated (OAI)] classified inspection that had been recommended for a Warning Letter by the compliance branch be set aside based upon the response of the firm.”

The best way for your company to write a FDA 483 response is to provide a brief cover letter and to use your CAPA process. Every 483 inspection observation needs to be addressed in the FDA 483 response as a separate CAPA. Make sure that your response includes the following seven steps below:

  1. respond within 15 business days (earlier is better)
  2. use your CAPA form and a cover letter–instead of a memo
  3. document the investigation that was conducted with a concisely stated root cause
  4. identify containment measures and corrections to address each specific observation by the FDA inspector
  5. identify corrective actions planned and the date(s) you expect to complete implementation
  6. Include documentation of containment, corrections and corrective actions that are completed at the time you submit the response
  7. follow-up with a memo confirming that all the corrective actions are complete and include all related documentation–including training for any new procedures or any new corrective actions that warranted training

Your FDA 483 response is required in less than 15 business days

The FDA has always involuntarily required a medical device firm, or any firm under FDA jurisdiction that received an FDA 483, to provide a written FDA 483 response to the District Office within 15 business days. As of two years ago (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-08-11/pdf/E9-19107.pdf), it became mandatory that the Agency must receive a FDA 483 response within 15 business days, or an automatic Warning Letter is issued. You need to respond aggressively to FDA 483s with corrective actions, and submit your response early. The FDA has also modified the format of the response to require email responses.

Use your CAPA forms instead of a memo.

I have asked several former FDA investigators whether they would prefer to see firms submit responses in memo format, or by using their CAPA forms and a cover letter. Some told me that they prefer to see firms use their CAPA forms, while others don’t seem to have a preference. Nobody from the FDA has ever indicated a preference for a memo. I see no point in doubling your work and risking transcription errors. If you have an electronic system that does not have an easy-to-follow output format, go ahead and copy-and-paste the information from your electronic database to your memo. If the CAPA system output is easy to follow, just use a cover letter and copies of the forms.

Document the investigation and root cause

This is definitely my pet-peeve, but a one-sentence “root cause” is not enough for an FDA 483 response. Regardless of whether I am doing a mock-FDA inspection, an internal audit, or a supplier audit–I expect you to document how you determined the root cause (http://robertpackard.wpengine.com/five-tools-for-conducting-root-cause-analysis/). If it’s trivial and obvious, then it must have been something important, or I would not have written a nonconformity. Therefore, you should be looking beyond the immediate scope of the FDA 483 to ensure that a similar problem cannot occur elsewhere. In the language of the FDA, this is a preventive action, because you are preventing occurrence with another process or product. Most ISO certification auditors are purists, and they won’t accept this as a preventive action. You will have to show the purists something special–maybe from your data analysis.

Don’t forget containment and correction

For every 483 observation, including the subparts, you need to identify if immediate containment is necessary and how you can correct the problem. Whenever possible, you should attempt to implement the containment and corrections during your FDA inspection. It would be fantastic to give the FDA inspector a copy of the new CAPA you initiated during the audit. The new CAPA would identify containment and corrections that have been or will be implemented–including any nonconformity(s) you initiated to quarantine product. You may still get an FDA 483 inspection observation, but you are likely to convert a possible Official Action Indicated (OAI) into a Voluntary Action Indicated (VAI). You can also modify the CAPA wording later in your FDA 483 response to include a cross-reference to the FDA 483 and quote the exact wording the inspector uses.

Explain the corrective action plans and timelines

Clarity, brevity, and realistic plans are critical in this section of your response. I prefer a table that looks like the example shown below.

7 steps 483 chart 7 Steps to writing an FDA 483 response

Show the FDA you have already taken action in your FDA 483 response

Whenever possible, you want to show the FDA that you are taking action without delay. If you revised the SOP for MDRs and scheduled a group training for July 15, then you should provide the FDA a copy of the revised procedure and a copy of the agenda for your planned training session. The only caution is to only commit to actions you are certain you will implement. You can always do more, but it will be much harder to explain why you did not implement an action you submitted in your FDA 483 response.

Follow-up with a second FDA 483 response before the FDA asks for it

The FDA’s compliance office will be looking for a response when an FDA 483 is issued, and they will review your response. The investigator will get a copy of the FDA 483 response, and the investigator will comment on the response. The compliance office and the investigator enter their comments into a CDRH database. Still, the comments are only general, as to whether the response is adequate or inadequate and will require additional review.

If you do not hear back from the FDA, do not assume that the compliance office or the investigator was satisfied. You should also follow-up several months later (earlier if possible) with a letter that includes evidence of the completed corrective actions, and your verification of effectiveness. If the verification is compelling and received in less than six months of the inspection, you may convince the compliance office to hold off a planned Warning Letter.

If you are interested in root cause analysis and improving your CAPA process, we have two related webinars:

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8 success tips for the first 30 minutes of an FDA inspection

fda30min 300x156 8 success tips for the first 30 minutes of an FDA inspectionThe author presents an 8 item action plan and discussion for getting your FDA inspection off to a good start, beginning when the FDA enters your facility. When an FDA inspector arrives at the reception desk of your facility, the last thing that you want is a Keystone Kops scenario with people running around in a panic and keeping the inspector waiting. This is your first opportunity to make a professional impression, and you never want to give an inspector the impression that you have something to hide. What happens during the first 30 minutes of arrival is critical. While medical device inspections are often announced several days in advance, there is no obligation for the Agency to do so. Therefore, your team needs training and a plan. This training should involve more than just reading the Quality System Inspection Technique (QSIT) manual (http://bit.ly/QSITManual), and conducting a mock FDA inspection. Last year, Rob Packard wrote a blog about “10 FDA Inspection Strategies that Don’t Work” (http://bit.ly/QSITmistakes), but the following activities need to be executed in the first 30 minutes to ensure your next inspection starts smoothly.

The FDA Inspection: 8 Immediate Actions to Take
1. Receptionist-Personnel Contacts  (Time Zero)

I once witnessed a receptionist sarcastically comment to an inspector that people must be thrilled when they walk in the door. That was not a great start to the inspection. Ensure that your receptionist and additional personnel who may sit at the desk are trained, understand what to do, and know-how to behave when an FDA inspector(s) arrives. This exercise should not cause panic. You need a simple work instruction located at the reception desk and a list of key staff members to contact immediately. The head of the Quality department, or Management Representative, is usually the first call.

2. Have Chain of Command in Place (Time = 1 minute)

DO NOT keep the inspector waiting in the lobby. Have a communication chain in place to ensure that other appropriate personnel is available in the event that the first point of contact cannot be reached. It is reasonable to ask the inspector to return at a later date ONLY if all individuals with the technical expertise to participate in the inspection are not on-site, or are out of the country. The agent will decide whether to honor this request, but the expectation is that there is always someone with whom they can work with. Never make this request to put off the inevitable.

3. Ask To See Inspector Credentials (Time = 2 minutes)

Ask to see the inspector’s credentials, and ensure that you give them more than a cursory glance. This is important to avoid allowing an imposter posing as an Agency employee from gaining access to your business. While a rare occurrence, it has been known to happen. Some investigators are officers of the Public Health Service and may be in uniform. However, even these officers are not required to wear a uniform for all visits. Note:  Section 5.1.1.2 of the FDA Investigations Operations Manual (http://bit.ly/FDAIOM) instructs inspectors to provide their credentials to top management, but copying of official credentials is not allowed.

4. Escort Inspector to Inspection Room (Time = 5 minutes)

Make sure that you can have the inspector escorted to a suitable room with the respective hosts within five minutes of arrival. This will involve ensuring that it is clearly understood by all administrative staff and key management that any other meeting may need to be curtailed, or moved immediately to another location to provide an appropriate space for the inspection. Providing substandard accommodations, such as a very cold or warm room, is not a good strategy for shortening the inspection time, and is a ploy easily recognized by the Agency, though not appreciated. Note:  Rob Packard taught an audio seminar earlier this year, where the use of inspection war rooms was covered in more detail—including a diagram with a proposed layout for the room (http://bit.ly/FDAInspectionSeminar).

5. Ready the FDA Inspection War Room (Time = 10 minutes)

Immediately after your inspection room is identified, you need to prepare your backroom or “war room.” This room should be located near the inspection room and set up at a moment’s notice with staff who can expertly execute their respective roles. You will need a mode of communication between the inspection and war rooms, runners to retrieve documents and records in the shortest time possible, as well as a technical individual to review these documents to ensure that they are appropriate and accurate before being provided to the inspector. This room should be ready within ten minutes of arrival.

6. Ensure You Have Emergency Supplies & Copies (Time = 15 minutes)

Your war room will need supplies. You should have a mobile cart equipped with inspection supplies ready and waiting at all times. Suggestions for the contents of your war room cart include a laptop, projector, staplers, staples, pens, blank folders, a label maker, and a stamp for “uncontrolled copies.” Your supplies need to make it to the war room within 15 minutes of arrival.

7. Ready the Frequently Requested Documents (Time = 25 minutes)

Don’t wait for the inspector to tell you which documents are invariably requested at the outset of any inspection. This includes, but is not limited to, the organizational chart, an index of all procedures, CAPA log, and your nonconformance logs for medical devices—all dating back to the last inspection. This doesn’t mean that you should offer these documents to the inspector. You want to prepare these before they are requested so that they can be provided quickly, but you should keep the copies in the war room until the inspector requests each document and record. Copies of these records and documents should be stamped and ready within 25 minutes of arrival.

8. Relax (Time = 30 minutes)

It sounds as though this process is a race against time. It is not. No one engaging with the inspector should be running in and out of the room, gasping for breath, or sweating profusely from the effort. Keeping the inspector waiting can be perceived as a stall tactic, perhaps arousing suspicion that you are creating records “on the fly” in the war room (definitely not a strategy that I recommend), or that you are having difficulty locating the requested documents, and are not in control of your Quality Management System (QMS). The most important aspect is to manage your QMS so that you are always ready for an inspection at a moment’s notice. If you prepare in advance, you shouldn’t need to do anything more than ask if the inspector would like coffee before the inspection begins.  

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Why the FDA 510k Process Needs to Change Now: A Proposed Solution

The author says three factors are accelerating the need for change to the current FDA 510k process and offers a proposed solution.

%name Why the FDA 510k Process Needs to Change Now: A Proposed SolutionWhen a company’s marketing literature tells you how a new device is different from competitor products, and the 510k summary for the same new device states that it is “substantially equivalent,” you can understand why the FDA may not fully support the 510k process for innovative, medium-risk devices.

There are many things wrong with the FDA 510k process, but the concept of using a predicate device and demonstrating equivalence is inherently a wrong approach for innovative devices. A preliminary report about the 510k process was released in 2010 (http://bit.ly/510kreport). The report states, “While the concept of ‘substantial equivalence to a predicate’ is generally reasonable, CDRH’s application of this standard has, in some instances, raised concerns.” Specifically, the use of predicate devices that were withdrawn from the market due to issues of safety or effectiveness, and the use of so-called “split predicates” may not ensure patient safety or device efficacy.

The FDA attempted to address issues identified in the report by issuing a draft guidance document for 510k submissions, but the industry hated it. The FDA has also gradually requested more clinical study data to demonstrate that the new device is substantially equivalent to the predicate device. This practice results in unexpected delays and much higher costs of regulatory approval. The FDA’s published guidance for 510k content (http://bit.ly/510kContent) indicates that “Clinical data is not needed for most devices cleared by the 510(k) process.” However, more than 10% of 510k submissions now require clinical data because the 510k for predicate devices included clinical data to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

More recently, the FDA issued a draft guidance document for the De Novo process (http://bit.ly/DeNovoGuidance). The De Novo process allows the FDA to reset the submission requirements for devices that are not substantially equivalent and specify new requirements. The process has been used most for new In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) products, and it is quite similar to the concept of Common Technical Specifications (CTS) introduced for IVD products in Europe.

Why the FDA 510k Process Needs to Change Now

The simultaneous confluence of three factors is accelerating the need for change in the 510k process. First, the cost of healthcare is skyrocketing. Therefore, patients and healthcare providers are desperately searching for less expensive treatment solutions. Second, insurance providers are demanding clinical evidence that new products are more effective than existing products that cost less. Third, evidence-based medicine is becoming mainstream. Physicians are no longer accepting the word of salespeople and marketing literature. Instead, physicians demand clinical data demonstrating that products are safe and effective. Users also want detailed information regarding patient selection criteria.

The collision of these three factors has exponentially increased the value and importance of clinical data. Still, only 10%+ of the 510k cleared devices to have clinical data at the time of product launch. Regulatory clearance to market a product is nearly useless if the product is not reimbursed, and users will not adopt its use. The modular Premarket Approval (PMA) process supports (http://bit.ly/PMAmethods) the need for preliminary safety data before clinical use, followed by a clinical study to demonstrate efficacy. However, 510k products are lower in risk and efficacy and can often be demonstrated with simulated use, animal testing, and cadavers.

As medical devices become more complex and innovative, bench-top testing and pre-clinical testing is not always adequate to demonstrate safety and efficacy for 510k products. Complex and innovative devices are extremely difficult to predict how the devices will interact with a broader population of users and patients, and it is difficult to predict the long-term effects of the devices—beyond the duration of a premarket, clinical study.

The PMA process requires premarket clinical data, but PMAs requires exponentially greater amounts of data than a 510k submission, and the FDA requires supplemental approval of almost every minor change (e.g., – changing a component supplier, or changing a test method). If the PMA process is too burdensome for most devices, and the 510k process is not adequate, what is the right process for the next generation of devices?

The De Novo process offers one solution, but it is still a premarket notification process. For the De Novo process to be useful for innovative devices, a Special Controls Guidance Document needs to include a requirement for both premarket clinical studies and Post-Market Surveillance (PMS).

Pilot Parallel FDA-CMS Review Process

In 2011, the FDA initiated a pilot program to allow companies to have PMA and CMS (http://bit.ly/Medicare-Medicaid) review processes occur in parallel (http://bit.ly/ParallelReview). The concept behind this pilot program is that the same clinical data must be reviewed for PMA approval and CMS reimbursement. If the pilot program is effective, products will be approved and reimbursed at the same time. However, this pilot program is only applicable to PMA products at this time. This program could be expanded to 510k products, where clinical data is presented as part of the application, but most 510k products do not warrant a clinical study.

Another Solution

The best tool to measure the safety of a new device is a clinical study, but U.S. clinical studies focus on demonstrating efficacy. Therefore, the FDA should consider using smaller clinical studies, without comparisons to predicate devices, to demonstrate safety rather than efficacy. This is the approach used by European Notified Bodies for medium and high-risk, innovative devices. This approach can also be integrated with a Special Controls Guidance Document for De Novo products.

For complex, innovative devices, the efficacy of the device is not reliably measured by clinical studies, because outcomes are highly dependent upon users. Premarket clinical studies can only estimate efficacy due to the small number of users. The lack of accurate efficacy predictability is why the FDA requires PMS for many PMA products. The best tool to measure efficacy is Post-Market Clinical Follow-up (PMCF) studies—not the premarket clinical studies the FDA uses to evaluate PMA applications. This is also the type of data that is required for CMS reimbursement and physician adoption.

Innovative devices are forcing regulations to evolve. The goal of regulators should be to produce a best-in-class method of evaluating which devices should be approved, reimbursed, and adopted as the standard of care.

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How to request FDA Device Classification information – 513(g) Alternative

This blog provides a five-step process on how to request FDA device classification information. A screenshot of the FDA website for each step is included.

If your company is currently registering with the US FDA, you are probably reviewing the guidance document this month for the FY2013 user fees. On pages six and seven, there is a table of these fees, but you might have overlooked 513(g). Section 513(g) is a provision in the law that allows companies to request device classification information from the FDA.

For example, if your company was developing a new product, and you were having difficulty identifying the regulatory pathway, 513(g) is your friend. In my opinion, these fees are modest: $5,061 = Standard Fee, and $2,530 = Small Business Fee (updated for FY 2022). Most consultants will charge at least ten hours of consulting to identify the regulatory pathway for a company. I would charge quite a bit less because it takes me a lot less than ten hours. I still think the FDA’s pricing is a good deal because getting information directly from the source is always more valuable than an “expert.”

The US FDA has published a guidance document explaining the process for 513(g) requests. This guidance document was released on April 6, 2012 (updated in 2019). The guidance explains what information companies need to provide in order to submit a 513(g) request. The guidance also has a fantastic list of FDA resources on page five. These are the very same resources that the “experts” use—including yours truly.

Just as any good lawyer tries to avoid asking questions that they don’t already know the answer to, I recommend that you first try using these resources yourself. Once you think you know the answer, your request for classification information will be easier to organize.

Here’s how I would proceed to request FDA device classification information: 

Step 1 – Are there similar devices on the market?

Identify another device similar to yours. If you can’t do this, you need serious help. You need a similar device that is already sold on the market to use as a predicate device. If you cannot identify a predicate, then you can’t use the 510(k) process—or you don’t know your competition. Either way, there are challenges to overcome. For example, if you are trying to launch a new topical adhesive made from cyanoacrylate—”Dermabond” might be the first predicate device that comes to mind.

registration and listing How to request FDA Device Classification information   513(g) Alternative

Step 2 – Search the Registration Database for FDA Device Classification

Use the registration and listing database on the FDA website to find the company that manufacturers the device. The link for this is #4 on my helpful links page (updated). This link also will provide you with connections to the classification database—which you can use to find the classification for any device. However, the registration and listing database is less likely to lead you astray. When I type “Dermabond” into the field for the proprietary device name, I get a list of five different product listings.

5 listings for dermabond How to request FDA Device Classification information   513(g) Alternative

Step 3 – Select one of the competitor links to identify the FDA Device Classification

Clicking on any one of these five will take you to a listing page for the corresponding company. On that page, you will find the three-letter product code that identifies the device classification and the applicable regulations for that device.

device listing for dermabond1 How to request FDA Device Classification information   513(g) Alternative

Step 4 – Your found the FDA Device Classification

Clicking on the three-letter product code (i.e., – “MPN” in our Dermabond example) takes you to the Product Classification page. This is where you will find that Dermabond, and other tissue adhesives, are Class II devices that require a 510(k) submission. Also, the Product Classification page identifies an applicable guidance document to follow for design verification and validation testing. This is also called the “Special Controls Document.”

mpn product classification How to request FDA Device Classification information   513(g) Alternative

Step 5 – TheTPLC Report lists all the recent 510(k) submissions

Click on the “TPLC Product Code Report” link. This link will provide you with a report of all the 510(k) ‘s recently granted to your competitors, problems customers have experienced with their products, and recalls for the past five years. This is extremely valuable information as a design input—as well as competitive information for your marketing team.

tplc total product life cycle report for mpn How to request FDA Device Classification information   513(g) Alternative

TPLC Report for Product Code “MPN” – Topical Adhesive

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FDA Approval Process: “Triage” for 510(k)

The Triage program for 510(k) submissions is reviewed. The goal of this FDA approval process program is to reduce review time from 90 to 30 days.

Thursday, Congress voted 96 to 1 for a bill to increase FDA user fees. The rationale is that the FDA needs more funding to be strong enough to properly regulate foods, drugs, and medical devices. One of the commitments linked with this new funding is to shorten the review of 510(k) submissions. To this end, OIVD has created a new program called “Triage.” The goal of this program is to accelerate the review of specific traditional 510(k) submissions to 30 days instead of 90 days.

In theory, this pilot program will help some companies get their 510(k) clearance letter faster, but simultaneously, the FDA will be able to concentrate resources on high-risk 510(k) submissions. This entire strategy seems to be the opposite of triage. Triage involves sorting sick patients into three categories:

1) Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive

2) Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive

3) Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in their outcome

If we apply the triage analogy to 510(k) submissions, we see three categories:

1)      510(k) submissions that are likely to be approved, regardless of how much time the FDA spends

2)      510(k) submissions that are likely to be rejected, regardless of how much time the FDA spends

3)      510(k) submissions whose approval or rejection is not apparent, but the FDA’s earlier involvement in the design and development process would substantially improve review time.

The FDA’s “triage” program is intended to demonstrate improvement in the time required to approve medical devices by sorting submissions into two groups: group #1 above and group # 2/3 from above. This will make the numbers look good, but the FDA should be spending even less time on #2 than it spends on the #1 category of submissions. The FDA should also get involved in group #3 submissions much earlier.

FDA Approval Process

The types of submissions that need more FDA reviewer time are devices that are higher in risk and where special controls guidance documents and or ISO Standards have not already been established for performance and safety testing criteria (i.e., – Category #3 above). In these cases, when a company tries to obtain some feedback from the FDA, they are asked to request a pre-IDE meeting. The company will not be necessarily performing a clinical trial, but this is the only vehicle the FDA has for justifying the time it spends providing feedback on proposed verification and validation testing plans. The FDA needs to develop a new model that is ideally suited for 510(k) products where guidance and Standards do not exist. This would also have the effect of reducing the number of “Not Substantially Equivalent” (NSE) letters the FDA issues.

If a company is developing a device that already has an applicable special controls document or ISO Standard, then the 510(k) pathway should be well-defined without the FDA’s help. Unfortunately, there is no easy mechanism for ensuring compliance with these external standards. This type of submission would benefit from software-controlled submissions and or pre-screening of submissions by third-party reviewers. The Turbo 510(k) software tool could lend itself to software-controlled submissions, but a proliferation of the Turbo 510(k) has been limited.

Submitting a 510(k)

If a company does not submit a 510(k) with all the required elements of a guidance document, the submission should not be processed. Implementation of validated software tools for each 3-letter product code would prevent incomplete submissions. At the very least, companies should be required to provide a rationale for any sections of submission that are not applicable.

One example of a possible software solution is currently used by third-party auditors at BSI. BSI uses a software tool that will not allow the auditor to generate a final report unless all the required elements have been completed. The FDA could use the existing screening checklist and convert this into a similar “SmartForm.” If the submission does not have all the required elements of the checklist, the submission form could not be generated from the software. This forces the task of pre-screening reviews back upon the submitter with the aid of a validated software tool.

The most significant shortfall of the Triage program is the target product types. IVD devices are quite different from other device types. Each IVD has unique chemistry, and there are a limited number of Guidance documents for IVDs, and IVD submissions represent only 10-20% of all submissions. Orthopedic, cardiovascular, general/plastic surgery and radiology devices each represent more than 10% of the submissions, and collectively they represent half of the submissions. These types of devices also have both special controls documents and ISO Standards defining the design inputs for design verification. Therefore, these four device types would be a better choice for a pilot program to expedite reviews.

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