The FDA is lending additional support behind “horizon scanning,” a practice in which government and business entities collaborate to gather information broadly about emerging trends in science and technology. Horizon scanning helps these entities develop better capabilities to react to the quickly changing field. The FDA set up its own intra-agency horizon scanning group back in April 2015 – the Emerging Sciences Working Group – comprised of representatives from various FDA product and research centers.
Along those lines, the FDA is asking science and technology experts in the private sector to submit predictions on the next “new” items in their field of specialization. The agency stressed that it is not looking for advances already under discussion, but instead is seeking information about scientific and technological advances under the radar–so far under that a web search would have difficultly finding it. The FDA’s ability to achieve its stated agency mission relies on awareness of, and proactive preparedness for, emerging issues and scientific advances, which will impact the development of regulated products well in advance of formal FDA regulatory submissions, which can be anywhere from five to 10 years prior to when the regulatory submissions arrive at the FDA.
The information should be submitted electronically to the FDA’s Emerging Sciences Idea Portal. The portal is public, so confidential information should only be provided in writing. The FDA makes no promises on response, but did note that it would ask for more information if the submission sufficiently interested the agency. The FDA will use this information gathering to assist in the agency’s science-based planning, programs, policies, reporting, and communication within and outside the FDA. The public docket will be available for comment submissions through October 2019.