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.
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Data integrity means complete, consistent and accurate recording of data. This requires an original or true copy of contemporaneously recorded data that is attributable to a specific individual and is legible and accurate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers data integrity to be critical throughout the current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) to ensure product quality and public safety. In response to an increased number of data integrity violations, which have led to warning letters, import alerts and consent decrees, the FDA published a draft guidance on Data Integrity and Compliance with CGMP on April 14, 2016. After considering comments to the draft guidance, the FDA has now issued its Final Guidance on Data Integrity and Compliance with Drug CGMP on December 12, 2018. The Final Guidance is in a Q&A format and provides detailed instructions to the industry that reflects the FDA’s current thinking on data integrity.
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The Food and Drug Administration recently issued draft guidance entitled “Consideration of Uncertainty in Making Benefit-Risk Determinations in Medical Device Premarket Approvals, De Novo Classifications, and Humanitarian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.
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Section 523 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act codifies the 510(k) Third Party Review Program (3P Review Program), which authorizes certain qualified third parties (3P Review Organizations) to conduct the initial review of premarket notification submissions for certain low-to-moderate risk medical devices. The 3P Review Program has been in existence since 1996, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has modified aspects of the 3P Review Program from time to time to comply with changes in the statutory framework. The FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA), which was signed into law on August 18, 2017, amended Section 523. In response, the FDA has now published a draft guidance, titled “510(k) Third Party Review Program Draft Guidance for Industry, Food and Drug Administration Staff, and Third Party Review Organizations,” which modifies the 3P Review Program guidance. Comments and suggestions are due by December 13, 2018. When finalized, this guidance will supersede FDA’s guidance documents from 2001 and 2004.
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