- Posts by Megan RobertsonAssociate
Attorney Megan Robertson approaches her practice with enthusiasm that stems both from her personal experiences and her overall passion for the intersection of science, medicine, and the law.
Her background, including an ...
On October 31, 2023, FDA hosted a webinar to address some of the frequently asked questions the agency has received since the September 29, 2023 release of its proposed rule on laboratory developed tests (“LDTs”). The materials from the webinar are available on FDA’s CDRH Learn webpage. Importantly, FDA announced during the webinar that the agency does not currently plan to extend the comment period for the proposed rule beyond the standard 60-day timeframe, and therefore, comments are still due on Monday December 4, 2023. In both the preamble to the proposed rule and stated ...
In a last minute push before an anticipated government shutdown, FDA put down its marker for moving forward toward regulation of lab developed tests (“LDTs”). Unlike past proposals from FDA and Capitol Hill, FDA has taken a simple approach: laboratories that make LDTs for clinical use are manufacturing in vitro diagnostic medical devices (“IVDs”) for commercial distribution, and as such must eventually comply with FDA’s already-established IVD requirements. The FDA zeitgeist boils down to this: It doesn’t matter if the lab is large or small, for profit or ...
On August 15, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) released final guidance on informed consent for clinical investigations (“Final Guidance”). This update follows FDA’s draft guidance, which was issued in July 2014, and supersedes the FDA’s “A Guide to Informed Consent,” which was issued in September 1998. The Final Guidance is intended to assist clinical research stakeholders, such as institutional review boards (“IRBs”), investigators, and sponsors, in complying with FDA’s informed consent regulations for clinical ...
As discussed in our June Insight, earlier this year FDA publicly announced its development of a proposed rule that would expressly define laboratory developed tests (“LDTs”) as medical devices and subject them to the agency’s regulatory authority. Such a rule would be FDA’s first comprehensive attempt to impose its authority over LDTs since its 2014 draft guidance, which FDA ultimately chose not to finalize, and comes after several failed congressional legislative attempts to do the same.
Since the passage of the Medical Device Amendments of 1976, FDA has regulated in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests as medical devices, subject to a full suite of FDA requirements. During that time, FDA has also asserted that it has the authority to regulate in-house tests developed and performed by CLIA-certified, high-complexity clinical laboratories (generally referred to as laboratory-developed tests or LDTs) but chose as a matter of enforcement discretion not to regulate LDTs. Over time, the Agency chipped away slowly at LDT enforcement discretion, carving out certain kinds of tests (e.g., direct-to-consumer LDTs) and thus making them subject to regulation, but by and large did not take broad steps to regulate LDTs.
FDA took two important steps last week to clarify the regulatory landscape for cannabis products, including CBD products. First, FDA issued a draft guidance on Quality Considerations for Clinical Research Involving Cannabis and Cannabis Derived Compounds. This guidance builds off of earlier guidance FDA has issued about the quality and regulatory considerations that govern the development and FDA approval of cannabis and/or cannabinoid drug products. See e.g., here and here. The draft guidance iterates a federal standard for calculating delta-9 THC content in cannabis finished products, which addresses a significant gap in federal policy regarding those products. While the testing standard is neither final nor binding on FDA or DEA, when finalized it would iterate what FDA considers to be a scientifically valid method for making the determination of whether a cannabis product is a Schedule I controlled substance. Therefore, it may be useful in many contexts, including federal and state cannabis enforcement actions. We encourage affected parties to file comments on FDA’s Guidance, which they may do until September 21, 2020.
Second, FDA sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review a proposal on how FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion over CBD consumer products. See here. While the contents of this guidance have not yet been made public, we forecast that it likely will align with FDA’s past enforcement actions and memorialize the agency’s intent to pursue enforcement actions against CBD consumer product companies that make egregious claims about their products treating or preventing serious diseases or conditions.
Guidance on Considerations for Cannabis Clinical Research
FDA’s guidance recognizes that Congress’s enactment of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”) improved domestic access to pre-clinical and clinical cannabis research material that may be used in the research and development of novel therapies. However, currently marijuana only may be obtained domestically from the University of Mississippi under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While DEA issued a policy in 2016 to allow for the additional registration of marijuana cultivators for legitimate research and licit commercial purposes, the Office of Legal Counsel in June 2018 issued an opinion finding that such policy violates the United States’ obligations under applicable treaties. However, in March of this year, DEA issued a proposed rule to allow for the registration of additional cultivators of cannabis for these licit purposes. See here.
There is an alternative pathway to the procurement of Schedule I research material which FDA’s guidance does not mention: importation. Researchers may obtain certain Schedule I material pursuant to a federal DEA Schedule I importer registration, and DEA has in the past issued such registrations. See 21 CFR 1301.13(e)(1)(viii).
The cannabidiol (“CBD”) consumer product marketplace is booming. And, while FDA has maintained its position that CBD, even hemp-derived CBD, may not be included as an ingredient in conventional foods or dietary supplements, FDA has signaled its intent to create a lawful marketing pathway for these products. Also, while FDA has issued Warning Letters to companies who made egregious claims about their products curing serious diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, FDA has also signaled a willingness to exercise enforcement discretion over CBD products that pose less serious safety concerns. What has resulted is CBD manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses living in FDA regulatory purgatory. Fortunately, several courts have recently held that CBD companies will not face consumer product liability, at least while their FDA regulatory fate is being decided.
A number of federal lawsuits were recently brought by consumers against manufacturers of various types of CBD products, ranging from ingestible foods and beverages, dietary supplements, topical oils and sprays, and vape products. The plaintiffs in these cases all bring similar claims, that the products purchased were misleading as to the amount of CBD in the product and/or that the products were mislabeled and falsely advertised as dietary supplements. The plaintiffs’ claims are based, at least in part, on assertions that the defendants violated the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”) by introducing adulterated and misbranded products into the U.S. market.
However, over the course of 2020, at least three judges have found that the outcome of these cases will have to wait until FDA completes its rulemaking on the regulation of CBD products. Citing the primary jurisdiction rule, the judges each issued a stay on their respective cases. The judges found that FDA has primary oversight over claims involving the illegal sale or marketing of CBD products, and that regulatory clarity is needed before a decision may be made on the matters brought by the plaintiffs. Thus, the fate of these cases now depend on when and whether FDA will issue regulations governing CBD products.
As an update to our prior blog post, on April 20, 2020 FDA announced the authorization of the first COVID-19 test for home collection of specimens. This announcement, made via the Agency’s FAQs on Diagnostic Testing for SARS-CoV-2 webpage, comes after weeks of FDA reporting that it has been working closely with manufacturers on such a test during the weekly Virtual Town Hall Meetings hosted by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. FDA clarifies that the test is only authorized for home collection of specimens to be sent back to a laboratory for processing. FDA still has not authorized a COVID-19 test “to be completely used and processed at home.”
According to the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) letter for the test, the new home collection method involves the use of a nasal swab, as opposed to a nasopharyngeal swab. Home collection is only permitted “when determined by a healthcare provider to be appropriate based on results of a COVID-19 questionnaire.” Instructions for self-collection must be made available to individuals online or as part of the collection kit, and the kit must include materials allowing the patient to safely mail the specimen to an authorized laboratory. The letter states that the EUA will be in effect until there is a declaration that the circumstances justifying this authorization is terminated or revoked.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, FDA issued an update to previous guidance titled, “FDA Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during the COVID-19 Pandemic” (the “Guidance”), adding an Appendix with ten questions and answers for specific topics based on feedback received on the initial March 18th Guidance. To supplement our prior blog post, we identify some key takeaways from the updated Guidance below:
Prioritize Safety of Clinical Trial Participants
- Ongoing Clinical Trials. Sponsors, investigators, and IRBs should work together to assess whether the participants’ safety is better served by continuing the study as is, discontinuing administration or use of the product, or by ending participation in the trial. The Guidance provides a number of key factors for consideration. FDA also recognizes that there may be an investigational product that is providing benefit to a trial participant, and the sponsor must decide whether to continue administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a context-dependent choice, and sponsors should consider whether there are any reasonable alternative treatments available, the seriousness of the disease or condition, the risks involved in switching treatment, supply chain disruptions, and whether discontinuing administration would pose a substantial risk to the participant.
- New Clinical Trials. With respect to initiating a new clinical trial, other than one to investigate treatments or vaccines related to COVID-19 infection, FDA advises sponsors to consider the ability to effectively mitigate the risks of a trial in order to preserve safety of the participants and trial integrity. Any new trial must also be designed in a way to comply with the Federal and State public health measures implemented in response to COVID-19.
On March 16, 2020, FDA finalized its guidance titled Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 during the Public Health Emergency (the “Policy”). The Policy includes information and recommendations to assist laboratories and commercial manufacturers in development of diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) during the ongoing pandemic.
During the first week of implementation, questions arose regarding the extent to which the Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) pathway to market, as described by the Policy, covers at-home ...
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a guidance document titled, “FDA Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during the COVID-19 Pandemic” (the “Guidance”). FDA’s stated purpose in issuing the guidance is to help sponsors to assure the safety of trial participants, maintain compliance with good clinical practice (“GCP”), and minimize risk to the integrity of trials during the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic.
The Guidance recognizes the impact COVID-19 may have on the conduct of ongoing clinical trials, including quarantines, site closures, travel limitations, interruptions to the supply chain, and other considerations should individuals involved in the studies become infected with COVID-19. FDA acknowledges that these factors may impact a sponsor’s ability to meet protocol-specified procedures, and that protocol modifications may be necessary and deviations unavoidable.
Two announcements made by FDA in late October signal a marked change to FDA’s regulatory approach to “homeopathic” drugs. On October 25, 2019, FDA withdrew the 1988 Compliance Policy Guide (“CPG”) 400.400 Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May Be Marketed, and, concurrently, published revised draft guidance titled Drug Products Labeled as Homeopathic (the “Revised Homeopathic Draft Guidance”).
Homeopathy—an alternative medical approach that began in the late 18th century—is based on the belief that (1) a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy ...
On May 31, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) hosted its much-anticipated public hearing titled “Scientific Data and Information about Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-Derived Compounds” (discussed in our prior blog post). The day-long hearing presented an opportunity for FDA panel members to engage directly with stakeholders on the regulatory future of cannabis or cannabis-derived products within the scope of FDA’s jurisdiction.
Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D., kicked off discussions, reminding the panel and ...
On April 2, 2019, FDA issued a press release featuring a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announcing the Agency’s latest enforcement actions taken against companies engaging in unlawful marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Coming just days before Gottlieb’s anticipated departure from the Agency, this news otherwise is unsurprising given recent events on the federal and state level. In a December 2018 press release issued on the heels of the Farm Bill’s passage, FDA forecast its intention to step up enforcement against CBD products, and earlier this year ...
Gummies, brownies, sodas, cookies . . . consumer appetite for food and dietary supplement products containing cannabidiol (“CBD”) has grown over the last few years as states have moved to legalize cannabis for medical or limited recreational use. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018, which legalized the cultivation of hemp for certain purposes, the “edibles” industry appeared poised for further expansion.
However, recent developments at both the federal and state level may be putting the “edibles” industry on a diet. In the past week, bans on the ...
Eighty years ago today, President Roosevelt signed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”). In recognition of this anniversary, EBG reviews how the FD&C Act came to be, how it has evolved, and how the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) is enforcing its authority under the FD&C Act to address the demands of rapidly evolving technology.
I’m Just a Bill
The creation of the FD&C Act stems from a sober event in American History. In 1937, a Tennessee drug company marketed elixir sulfanilamide for use in children as a new sulfa drug. The diethylene ...
The Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) kicked off its 22nd Annual Compliance Institute on Monday, April 16, 2018. During the opening remarks, Inspector General Daniel Levinson, of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General Office (OIG), announced the rollout of a new public resource to assist companies in ensuring compliance with Federal health care laws. The Compliance Resource Portal on the OIG’s website features:
- Advisory opinions
- Provider Compliance Resource and Training
- Voluntary Compliance and Exclusions ...
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