The author defines what an NB-MED is, Team NB and their role, provide a regulatory update and some information sources.
Each time I review a list of external standards, I notice at least a few references that are out-of-date. Occasionally, I am surprised, and everything appears to be current, but it is almost impossible to stay current with all the external standards. The most demanding standards to maintain are those that are untracked. Untracked standards are difficult to keep current with because it requires manually checking each source to determine if a standard has been updated. One of these sources is Team NB.
Team NB describes itself as the “European Association of Notified Bodies for Medical Devices.” Team NB is an organization comprised of Notified Bodies (NBs). These NBs create guidance documents to clarify the interpretation of regulations in the EU. Since NBs are generating the documents, rather than Competent Authorities (CAs), it is possible for Team NB to reach a consensus more quickly than CAs. Since these documents are guidance documents, the NB-MED documents are not enforceable or binding. However, in all likelihood, your NB will interpret ISO 13485 and the MDD (93/42/EEC as modified by 2007/47/EC) in accordance with these guidance documents.
The website link I provide in my “Helpful Links” page includes many links to important guidance documents. Among the recently updated NB-MED documents is NB-MED 2.5.2/rec 2. The “rec” is not the same as a revision. For example, rec two is “Reporting of design changes and changes of the quality system,” while rec 1 is “Subcontracting – QS related.” The link I have provided will land you directly on the list of NB-MED documents, and the right-hand column identifies the date the document was added to the list. Therefore, if you want to know about new and revised NB-MED documents, you merely need to read the documents that are identified as being added since your last visit.
NB-MED 2.4.2/rec 2
At this time, NB-MED 2.5.2/rec 2 is the only recent addition—and you should read it. Many companies struggle with design changes, and they don’t know if the change is significant or not. Revision 8 of this document includes helpful examples. I recommend reading this document carefully and then revising your own change notification procedure to match the document. If you don’t have a change notification procedure, your QMS auditor has been lazy. Don’t let them give you the excuse of “It’s just a sampling.” This document has been published for a long time, and the intent has not changed since 2008—just new examples to clarify the interpretations.
There is a posting from 1/14/11. This is an excellent list of all the NB-MED documents. I recommend printing this document and using it to compare against your current external standards list. There is a very recent posting from 2/7/12 that answers frequently asked questions about the implementation of EN 60601. If you don’t know what this is, you probably don’t have an active device.
On 3/27/12, there was a letter from Team NB indicating that they condemn Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) for committing fraud (well duh). Who would endorse them?
Finally, on April 17, 2012, meeting minutes were posted from an April 5 meeting of Team NB. The NBs indicated that the medical device authorization system is excellent! This is not a surprise since any other response would be self-criticism and potentially career-limiting. The minutes also indicate that the Team wants as many of the members to endorse the “Code of Conduct” (CoC) that was recently drafted by the “Big 5” NBs. So far, the acceptance of this Code is limited, but the Competent Authorities have other plans.
Competent Authorities (CAs) are currently evaluating the NBs with regard to competency for handling Class III devices. In addition, there is a plan to revise the regulations in Europe (2014 is the guess). These changes will be major. The Team NB website could be a source of information about rapid changes in the next 12 months, but for now, it’s the quiet before the storm. The Great Consolidation of European Regulators is about to begin (or maybe all the NBs will endorse the CoC, and the CAs will forget about it).