Since the 2018 Farm Bill passed in December 2018, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and thus legalizing it under federal law, consumer goods containing the hemp-derivative cannabidiol (CBD) have become exceptionally popular. With that growing popularity among consumers has come increased scrutiny by federal regulators whose mission is consumer safety and protection, such as the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission, and now by the plaintiffs’ bar, which files consumer class actions based on advertising. As the recent spate of warning letters and consumer class actions demonstrate, hemp-derived CBD product manufacturers and others in the supply chain for those products have to be mindful of the claims they make to consumers about their products.
On November 25, 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had issued warning letters to 15 U.S. businesses engaged in the sale of products containing cannabidiol (CBD); that it had published a revised Consumer Update detailing safety concerns about CBD products; and that it “cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” for use in human or animal food. These actions and statements by FDA cut against industrywide hopes that FDA might soon realign its enforcement policy in light of market realities.
On November 19, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released revised guidance concerning the compounding of animal drugs from bulk drug substances—in particular, the circumstances under which the FDA would not plan to take enforcement action for certain violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) when pharmacists and veterinarians compound or oversee the compounding of animal drugs from bulk drug substances. The guidance is intended to replace a withdrawn draft guidance concerning the compounding of animal drugs initially released in May 2015.
Late last week, the FDA—in denying a citizen petition and issuing two Federal Register notices—modified published guidance on the manufacture and distribution of homeopathic drugs and declined to convert a current policy guide (CPG) provision into an official regulation. Importantly, the FDA cautioned industry participants and consumers alike that its CPG withdrawal “does not represent a change in the legal obligations that apply to homeopathic drugs”; rather, the CPG—issued in 1988—merely no longer reflects the “current thinking” of the FDA, as it is inconsistent with the agency’s “risk-based approach to enforcement generally.”
On October 24, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new draft guidance entitled “Breast Implants—Certain Labeling Recommendations to Improve Patient Communication.” The draft guidance “contains recommendations concerning the content and format for certain labeling information for saline and silicone gel-filled breast implants.”
In its announcement, FDA noted that it has received “new information pertaining to risks associated with breast implants, including breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma” and additional illnesses attributed to breast implants. Complications related to breast implants have been widely reported over the last year, with other symptoms, including increased presence of autoimmune disease in women who have received breast implants, as well as muscle and joint pain, fatigue and weakness, and certain cognitive difficulties. These proposed labeling requirements also follow FDA warnings issued to two implant manufacturers who had failed to carry out adequate postmarket surveillance of the implants as a condition of their approval, as well as an FDA request that another manufacturer recall certain textured breast implant products.
For the first time since September 1989, federal agencies have issued draft guidance concerning drug master files (DMFs), submissions to the FDA that may be used to provide confidential, detailed information concerning the manufacturing, processing, packaging and storing of human drug products. Notably, the release of this draft guidance comes on the heels of a recent executive order by President Trump aiming to curb the use of agency guidance documents to avoid the formal rule-making process.
In a concise, six-page discovery order, a federal judge in Minneapolis may have just started the proverbial shifting of tectonic plates undergirding routine defense procedures in False Claims Act (FCA) litigation by requiring a defendant in an FCA lawsuit to produce the information provided to the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the DOJ’s process of determining whether to pursue the matter.
The FCA creates liability for persons or entities found to have knowingly submitted false claims to the government or having caused others to do so. Like some other federal laws, the FCA creates a private right of action; under the act, a private party—a whistleblower or “relator”—may bring a qui tam action on behalf of the government. When initially filed, the court seals the complaint pending the government’s investigation of the case. If the government chooses, it may intervene and pursue the matter. If not, the relator may pursue the case on its own. (In either case, the relator is entitled to a percentage of the government’s recovery.)
Despite recent bipartisan calls on the FDA to regulate hemp-derived CBD products, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration appears to be adhering to the status quo, at least with respect to issuing warning letters to companies deemed noncompliant with existing regulations. Case in point: on September 18, 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter (posted to the FDA’s website last week) to Alternative Laboratories, a dietary supplement manufacturer based in Naples, Florida.
According to the letter, the FDA conducted an inspection of Alternative’s dietary supplement manufacturing facility over five days in May and June; the inspection focused on the adequacy of labels for certain products manufactured and distributed by the company.
This was originally published in Law360.
With the advancements in technology and the advent of artificial intelligence, the medical device industry is flourishing. But regardless of the type of technology involved, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must clear the device for marketing before any commercialization of a medical device.
There are typically three mechanisms for seeking FDA clearance for a medical device: a 510(k) submission, a de novo classification request and a premarket approval application. The FDA will not accept a 510(k) application unless the applicant can demonstrate that the device is at least as safe and effective (i.e., substantially equivalent to) a device that has already obtained FDA clearance (i.e., a predicate device).
For the full article by Frederick R. Ball and Carolyn A. Alenci, visit the Duane Morris LLP website.
Duane Morris LLP was honored for its role in a Hatch-Waxman Impact Case of the Year at the Legal Media Group (LMG) Life Sciences Awards 2019. The case was Teva Pharmaceuticals et al v. Sandoz et al. (Fed. Circ. 2018), where the firm represented Amneal.
Duane Morris was also shortlisted as a “Firm to Watch – Financial & Corporate” and partner Anthony J. Fitzpatrick in Boston was named a finalist for “General Patent Litigator of the Year – New England.”
For more information, read the news release.