Medical Device Regulations & Compliance


Frequently Asked (Regulatory) Questions
Frequently Asked (Regulatory) Questions

The pivot from 25 years as a medical device practitioner to the chief editor’s chair at Med Device Online has been fun, but not devoid of challenges. My initial fear – that stepping out of the hands-on device development and manufacturing trenches would inhibit my ability to make a tangible difference for device users – has given way to satisfaction in the knowledge that my experience can help to inform and guide others in the industry.

  • Get Involved In The FDA Process…Or Else!
    Get Involved In The FDA Process…Or Else!

    As a child and student, I was mostly an academic. I got report cards with lots of “A’s” on them, but they didn’t hand out trophies for that. I did earn two small trophies for being on the first place team in kickball tournaments (it would have been way cooler if that was dodgeball instead). I did win a “Louie” as the guitar-player in the high school jazz band. I still have the little trophy for my Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and every time I lay eyes upon it – I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

  • EU MDR and Clinical Evidence: What You Need to Know
    EU MDR and Clinical Evidence: What You Need to Know

    The Council of the European Union has adopted the European Medical Device Regulations (MDR 2017/745), which were published in the Official Journal of the European Union and entered into force on May 26, 2017. Are you ready?

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Medical devices, from ideation to post-launch assessment, are regulated in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Medical Device Regulation Act of 1976 an subsequent amendments to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938.

The FDA’s medical device regulatory pathways — for premarket review, clearance, and approval — are based on three classifications, which indicate the degree of regulatory control necessary to ensure a device’s safety and effectiveness. Class I devices are considered low-risk, and many are exempt from the regulatory process. Class II devices require special controls for “labeling, guidance, tracking, design, performance standards, and postmarket monitoring,” and most require premarket notification 510(k) to demonstrate substantial equivalence (having the same intended use and technological characteristics) to a legally marketed device. Class III devices usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present a significant risk of illness or injury. Most class III devices require premarket approval (PMA), which examines a variety of factors in weighing the probable health benefits from intended use of a device versus the probable risks.

Medical device makers must adhere to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations, which FDA inspectors use to determine if a manufacturer has the facilities, skills, and equipment to produce and pack its product. In addition, the FDA recently decreed that all medical devices must carry a unique device identifier (UDI), readable by both machines and humans, to “improve patient safety, modernize device postmarket surveillance, and facilitate medical device innovation.”

Medical device makers competing in international markets must monitor and adhere to the policies of foreign regulatory bodies, which can vary greatly, depending on the nation. For example, countries in the European Union all recognize CE-Mark approval, while the regulatory framework applicable to imported devices still is being built in growth markets like China and India.

Many global regulators require manufacturers to be certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 13485 compliance, confirmed through third-party (notified body) audits, demonstrates a medical device manufacturer’s procedures and products meet or exceed international quality standards.

Efforts are also underway to standardize international regulations to ensure the safety, effectiveness, and quality of medical devices. The International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) — composed of regulatory agencies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States — is building upon previous work by the Global Harmonization Task Force on Medical Devices (GHTF) to speed this harmonization and convergence.


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