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FDA should invest in developing a new regulatory framework to replace flawed 510(k) medical device clearance process
Date:7/29/2011

WASHINGTON The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should gather the information needed to develop a new regulatory framework to replace the 35-year-old 510(k) clearance process for medical devices, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The 510(k) process lacks the legal basis to be a reliable premarket screen of the safety and effectiveness of moderate-risk Class II devices and cannot be transformed into one, concluded the committee that wrote the report.

FDA's finite resources would be better invested in developing a new framework that uses both premarket clearance and improved postmarket surveillance of device performance to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of Class II devices throughout the duration of their use, the committee said. The agency should also ensure that the new process allows devices to reach the market in as rapid and least burdensome a fashion as possible.

As directed by congressional legislation, the 510(k) clearance process provides a more expedient way to evaluate moderate-risk Class II devices than the premarket approval (PMA) that high-risk Class III devices must undergo. Unlike the PMA process, which requires manufacturers to submit results of safety and efficacy tests, the 510(k) clearance generally relies on "substantial equivalence" -- determining if new devices are sufficiently similar to comparable products that have been previously cleared or were on the market prior to 1975 when the 510(k) process was first put in place by legislative action.

However, reliance on substantial equivalence cannot assure that devices reaching the market are safe and effective, the committee concluded. The majority of the devices used as the basis for comparison were never reviewed for safety or effectiveness. This does not mean that they or the devices that followed them are unsafe, and the continual use of many of these products in clinical practice provides a level of
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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