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 The guidance is intended to replace a withdrawn draft guidance concerning the compounding of animal drugs initially released in May 2015.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.)
This was originally published in the Food and Drug Law Institute’s Update magazine.
Patient-focused drug development and the selection and development of Clinical Outcome Assessments (COA) continue to be a focus for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At the same time, we continue to see an increase in technology available at our fingertips and on our wrists. As electronic capture of data becomes more robust and systems to ensure its integrity are put into place, FDA has started to embrace electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOA). This increase opens up a plethora of new data sources that can be used to facilitate and enhance clinical trials, including the use of a study subject’s own devices (a/k/a “bring your own device” (BYOD)). This article discusses eCOA, BYOD, and FDA’s guidance on their use in clinical studies.
On August 26, 2019, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a press release announcing “it is moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States.” This announcement comes in the midst of a growing demand for marijuana for medical and scientific research. Several years ago, in an August 11, 2016, press release, DEA first announced its intention to “expand… the number of DEA-registered marijuana manufacturers” because “only one entity was authorized to produce marijuana to supply researchers in the United States: the University of Mississippi.” Since that announcement, 33 entities have applied to DEA for a marijuana manufacturer registration. However, the approval process was stalled during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ term in office, and to date no new applications have been approved. Meanwhile, the number of entities registered by DEA to conduct research on marijuana, marijuana extracts or marijuana derivatives has jumped from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019. Thus, while demand for marijuana for research purposes has increased sharply, the number of suppliers has remained stagnant.
On August 26, 2019, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, District Judge Thad Balkman delivered his highly anticipated ruling in the state of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against certain pharmaceutical companies responsible for manufacturing and marketing prescription opioid medications. Because the other pharmaceutical companies named in the state’s case settled with the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals remained the primary subjects of the evidence at trial and the focus of the attention surrounding Judge Balkman’s then-forthcoming ruling.
As Judge Balkman stated in the published judgment, the defendants knowingly and misleadingly marketed their highly addictive prescription opioids, and by doing so caused harm for which the state could seek redress, as their “actions annoyed, injured, or endangered the comfort, repose, health or safety of Oklahomans.”