Archive for March 22nd, 2011

Approval Process for Medical Devices is Faulted in Study

March 22nd, 2011 | 1 Comment | Source: LA Times, NY Times

More than 70% of all medical devices that have been recalled by the FDA for safety concerns were not subjected to rigorous clinical testing before the agency approved them, according to a new study.

The study authors were Diana Zuckerman and Paul Brown from the National Research Center for Women and Families, a consumer group, and Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

The authors reported that overall, the FDA recalled 113 medical devices between 2005 and 2009. Of these, 21 had been approved on the basis of rigorous clinical trial data. Eighty others had been approved under a less stringent, expedited approval process known as 510K, in which a device maker needs only to show that its new product is substantially similar to one already on the market. An additional 8 devices were exempt from FDA regulations, and 4 more were either counterfeit or classified as “other.”

Devices approved using the 510K approval process included mechanical ventilators, insulin infusion pumps, artificial hips and knees, and external cardiac defibrillators. The more rigorous process is typically reserved for life-supporting devices like implanted cardiac defibrillators. In the latter process, device makers must sponsor trials designed to prove their products are safe and effective.

Last summer, the FDA announced it was implementing some steps to “strengthen” the 510K process, but it deferred on a complete overhau pending the release of a report on the matter by the Institute of Medicine. The report is due later this year. (more…)

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