The Food and Drug Administration recently issued draft guidance entitled “Consideration of Uncertainty in Making Benefit-Risk Determinations in Medical Device Premarket Approvals, De Novo Classifications, and Humanitarian Device Exemptions.” Comments to this draft guidance should be provided by December 5, 2018.
FDA provides authorization for marketing a device when its benefits outweigh its risks. Uncertainty surrounding these benefits and risks is a factor that FDA considers when making its determination with respect to premarket approval application (PMA) approvals, de novo classifications, 510(k) clearances, humanitarian device exemption (HDE) approvals and investigational device exemption approvals. As it has in previous guidances, FDA attempts to provide “a flexible, patient-centric, benefit-risk approach” that is “tailored to the type and intended use of the device and the type of decision” required. For example, PMA and de novo requests require a demonstration of reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. However, HDE applications inherently have a greater uncertainty surrounding the benefit-risk profile as Congress provided that these applications need not show a reasonable assurance of effectiveness as the patient population is generally very small.