FDA’s Report on CBD Reaffirms Status Quo

Consumers want answers from FDA on how it plans to regulate the multibillion dollar market for CBD-related products—and they’re not alone. Under the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94), Congress directed FDA to provide a report concerning the agency’s progress in receiving and evaluating data to help inform a policy of enforcement discretion and a process by which FDA will evaluate cannabidiol (meeting the definition of hemp) in FDA-regulated products.

On March 5, 2020, FDA submitted the requested report, painting a more detailed view of its CBD-related activities than the public has seen to date. From a high level, FDA noted that it remains concerned about the potential safety risks posed by mislabeled or contaminated CBD-infused products. At the same time, FDA stated that it “is actively working to evaluate potential lawful pathways for the marketing of CBD.”

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

U.S. Trade Rep. Implements New Section 301 Exclusions for Certain Medical Products in Wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) escalate, U.S. trade policy is aligning with the country’s medical needs. On March 10, 2020, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced new Section 301 exclusions for certain kinds of Chinese-origin medical products. Although the USTR previously levied Section 301 duties as high as 15 percent against these products, the announced exclusions exempt them from Section 301 duties until September 1, 2020. Significantly, the new exclusions are retroactive in nature so that entities can seek refunds of the Section 301 duties that they have paid on the excluded products dating back to September 1, 2019. Assuming the USTR continues prior procedures, it is expected that the importing community will be allowed to submit written comments to support extensions of the exclusions.

This round of exclusions follows previous rounds granted by the USTR, but it represents the first since the coronavirus has taken center stage for the Trump administration. Although the USTR did not identify the coronavirus or the nation’s healthcare infrastructure as a factor in deciding to grant certain exclusions, these most recent exclusions may have been influenced by the current medical emergency. Additionally, a prime consideration was whether a particular product is only available from China, among other reasons.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

FDA Postpones Foreign Inspections Through April in Response to COVID-19

FDA announced on March 10, 2020, that the agency is postponing most foreign inspections through April, effective immediately. FDA will consider whether to conduct inspections outside the U.S. deemed mission-critical on a case-by-case basis.

Postponing foreign inspection will likely delay product application reviews that require facility inspections. FDA has committed to trying to mitigate any potential impact that the COVID-19 outbreak and suspension of foreign inspections may have regarding FDA action on product applications. The extent of that impact will likely depend on how soon foreign inspections can resume and the resources, including personnel, available to FDA once they resume.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

USDA Delays DEA Registration Requirement for Hemp Testing Laboratories

On February 26, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) took a significant step toward allaying industry concerns by announcing that it delaying enforcement of the interim final rule (IFR) requirement that hemp producers only use testing laboratories registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

When the IFR was published in late October of 2019, it faced near-immediate criticism from industry participants and stakeholders who, among other things, voiced concerns that the DEA registration requirement would create a bottleneck given capacity issues. Appearing to respond to those critiques, the USDA explained that its enforcement discretion “will allow additional time to increase DEA registered analytical lab capacity.”

Notwithstanding other applicable provisions of law, the requirement that hemp testing labs be DEA-registered largely foreclosed the potential for a single laboratory facility to test both hemp and marijuana, as the DEA, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, continues to treat marijuana as an illegal, Schedule I controlled substance. While this delay may provide an opportunity for labs that currently test medical and recreational marijuana pursuant to state law to also test hemp for compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, it is not certain that the DEA registration requirement will not be reinstated. It is also not clear what further requirements states may impose.

Under the USDA’s guidance, hemp testing may be “conducted by labs that are not yet DEA registered until the final rule is published, or Oct. 31, 2021, whichever comes first.” Until that time, labs conducting hemp testing are still subject to the other compliance requirements of the IFR, including those related to methods of testing.

Numerical Ranges: More Than Just Endpoints in Patent Process

On February 11 and 12, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office held a series of webinars covering the interpretation of ranges during the prosecution of patent applications. The following is a brief report and summary of the covered material.

Numerical ranges provide more than just two particular endpoints for a set of data within patent applications. The interpretation of a claimed numerical range when compared with disclosed numerical ranges in the prior art, assuming the claimed invention recites the other limitations of the prior art, can form the basis for an anticipation rejection based on 35 U.S.C. § 102, an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 103, or an alternative grounds rejection under both 35 U.S.C. §§ 102/103.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

FDA Revises Policies and Procedures for Prioritization of ANDAs in New MAPP

On January 30, 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new Manual of Policies & Procedures (MAPP) concerning how it will prioritize internal review of abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs), amendments and supplements.

Whether a submission qualifies for priority designation can mean a substantial difference in approval time. As the FDA explains, it “may grant an ANDA submission either a shorter review goal date or an expedited review” if the submission satisfies a public health priority (or prioritization factor) described in the MAPP.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

Sandra Stoneman named to U.S. News/Best Lawyers “The Best Lawyers in America” 2020 in Life Sciences

Congratulations to our colleague and corporate partner, Sandra Stoneman, who was recently selected by her peers for inclusion in U.S. News/Best Lawyers “The Best Lawyers in America” 2020 in the field of Biotechnology and Life Sciences. Sandra serves as a team lead for the Duane Morris Life Sciences and Medical Technologies industry group.

 

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FDA Identifies Medical Devices and Systems Exempt From Premarket Notification Requirements

Before a medical device is brought to market, the FDA requires a premarket submission. For low risk devices, that submission is often via a 510(k), demonstrating that the device is at least as safe and effective as (substantially equivalent to) an already legally marketed device that is not subject to premarket approval.

As of December 30, 2019, certain Class I and Class II medical devices and systems that previously required a 510(k) submission are now, based on certain criteria detailed in the FDA’s rule, exempt from that requirement. The regulatory adjustment will mean that the dozens of medical devices and test systems identified will no longer have to comply with the premarket clearance, subject to certain conditions.

For example, among the impacted items are numerous drug detection systems, such as amphetamine test systems, barbiturate test systems, benzodiazepine test systems, codeine test systems, and methamphetamine test systems, all of which are exempt unless they are intended for any other use than employment, insurance, or federal drug testing programs. The new rule also affects other categories of devices and tests, such as unscented menstrual pads, assisted reproduction accessories and microtools, and breath-alcohol test systems.

Spate of FDA and FTC Warning Letters Sets Stage for Wave of False Advertising Consumer Class Action Lawsuits

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.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

With a Flurry of Warning Letters and a Consumer Update, FDA Signals Commitment to CBD Enforcement Policy

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.

View the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.