Compounding pharmacy enjoined from manufacturing until remedial measures are implemented

Isomeric Pharmacy Solutions LLC (Isomeric) and three executives are permanently enjoined from manufacturing and distributing drugs considered adulterated in violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDC Act) (21 U.S.C. §301 et seq.). The injunction was entered in the Utah district court following a complaint entered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) after finding that Isomeric, a compounding pharmacy, was producing drugs under insanitary conditions.

Isomeric

Isomeric manufactures, labels, and distributes drugs, particularly injectable hormones and corticosteroids, as well as ophthalmic drops. Most of the drugs are directly distributed to physicians. The company initiated three recalls in 2016 involving three types of injectable drugs. In April 2017, Isomeric recalled all lots of non-expired drug products that should have been sterile and were compounded between October 4, 2016 and February 7, 2017.

Complaint

According to the complaint, the FDA found that Isomeric repeatedly found several types of microorganisms in the air and on surfaces that should have been sterile. Products that were manufactured in these areas were prepared in insanitary conditions. The FDA found that Isomeric deviated from current good manufacturing practice requirements, and failed to thoroughly review discrepancies or failures found in batches of drugs.

The injunction was entered through a consent decree as part of a settlement. Isomeric and its chief executive officer, chief sales officer, and chief operating officer will not resume manufacturing, holding, or distributing drugs until proper remedial measures have been taken.

Medical device stakeholders give House feedback on 4 separate bills

A variety of stakeholders in the medical device industry testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee with respect to a number of bills related to devices, including the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act (H.R.1652), the Medical Device Servicing Safety and Accountability Act (H.R. 2118), the Fostering Innovation in Medical Imaging Act of 2017 (H.R. 2009), and a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the process for inspections of device establishments and for granting export certifications (H.R. 1736), which would enhance the authorization Medical Device User Fee Amendments (MDUFA IV). While stakeholders took opposing viewpoints with respect to some bills, those that spoke to MDUFA IV, including Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health Jeffrey Shuren, all expressed their support.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act

The Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act would permit the sale of OTC hearing aids for use in adults with mild to moderate hearing impairments. Speaking on behalf of the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Dr. Thomas Powers of Powers Consulting, LLC supported the sales of OTC hearing aids for mild hearing impairments, but opposed the provision of such hearing aids for moderate use. Hearing impairment, particularly moderate and severe impairments, are complex and, in Powers’ opinion require consultation and fitting with hearing health professionals; in addition, he cited to a study indicating that hearing impaired individuals were more likely to be satisfied and wear hearing aids fitted by a professional.

Frank R. Lin, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and Geriatric Medicine at the John Hopkins School of Medicine and in the Departments of Epidemiology and Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the other hand, opined that OTC sales would make hearing aids more accessible and affordable to the hearing-impaired population; currently, less than 28 percent of the nearly 38 million Americans with significant hearing loss have access to the devices. He argued that alleged safety concerns about the sale of OTC hearing aids to individuals with moderate hearing loss were raised by parties looking to preserve the status quo, which offers little incentive for innovation of new market entry, with, “98 percent of the world’s hearing aid marketplace being controlled by six companies.” He likened the risks of OTC hearing aids to the risk of OTC reading glasses or aspirin.

Medical Device Servicing Safety and Accountability Act

H.R. 2118 would require establishments that service medical devices to register with the FDA, establish a complaint-handling system, and report adverse events to the agency. Joe Robinson, Senior Vice President of Health Systems Solutions for Philips North America, offered his support of the bill on behalf of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA). He noted that improper servicing of medical devices by non-manufacturer entities can injure patients via direct or indirect bodily harm, and can also cause problems for manufacturers down the road. For example, the manufacturer may not be aware of adverse events or may not be familiar with the chain of events that ultimately led to an adverse event, may experience difficulty upgrading parts that have been altered by a third party, or may have its device certification voided. MITA believes that registration and complaint handling is an important first step to improve service and safety.

Robert J. Kerwin, General Counsel for the International Association of Medical Equipment Remarketers and Services, Inc. (IAMERS), adamantly opposed the bill. He argued that the legislation provided a solution for a problem that does not exist, noting that, of the 177 public comments submitted to the FDA in response to its request for comments, including comments on service regulation, nearly none of them made negative comments about third-party device services, and that The Joint Commission, in its comment, stated that it “has no knowledge of any statistically significant level of safety problems resulting from the activities of any kind of maintenance/service provider.” Kerwin contrasted MITA’s opinion that increased regulation is necessary to prevent improper servicing with its members’ decisions to subcontract with IAMERS members to perform repair work. He further emphasized that the language of the bill would classify any type of repair work performed as a complaint, increasing the burden on third-party services, and hurt rural and regional hospitals that rely heavily on third-party servicers.

Fostering Innovation in Medical Imaging Act 

H.R. 2009 would “provide clarity with respect to the regulation of diagnostic imaging devices intended for use with contrast agents.” Currently, the FDA will not approve imaging devices or enhancements for use with approved contrast agents, if the agents are not specifically labeled for that use. MITA approved of the bill’s provision of “a clear regulatory pathway” to promote innovation.

H.R. 1736

Patricia Shrader, Vice President for Global Regulatory Affairs at Medtronic, Inc., spoke on behalf of AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, to offer its support of the bill, which would establish a risk-based inspection schedule based on a medical device facility’s risk profile. Shrader opined that this would allow the FDA to consider a facility’s compliance history and other related factors in scheduling inspections, as opposed to aligning the frequency of inspections with the classification of the devices a facility manufactures. She applauded the bill’s plan to improve FDA and facility communications prior to, during, and after inspections, noting that facilities would no longer need to wonder from day-to-day, during the course of an ongoing inspection, whether an inspector would be able to travel to the facility. The bill would also require the FDA to provide non-binding feedback on proposed remediation plans, so that facilities are not left wondering what changes they should make. Finally, the bill would require the FDA to implement a process to address refused international device certifications—certificates to foreign governments (CFGs)—when those refusals result from lack of FDA confirmation, rather than issues with the devices.

FDA warns Hospira to clear up flaws in injectable manufacturing

The FDA sent a letter warning Hospira Inc., a Pfizer Company, that some of the manufacturer’s drugs are adulterated due to violations of current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations for finished pharmaceuticals. Following an FDA inspection, the agency identified a number of CGMP failures, including a lack of adequate controls, the presence of visible particulates in sterile injectable products, and inadequate procedures to prevent contamination. The FDA noted that the failure to promptly correct the identified violations could result in seizure and injunction.

The FDA inspected Hospira’s McPherson, Kansas, facility from May 16 to June 8, 2016. The inspection revealed violations of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDC Act) (21 U.S.C. § 351(a)(2)(B)), as well as federal regulations (21 C.F.R. parts 210 and 211). Some of the violations stemmed from inadequate investigation, including multiple instances where Hospira determined that visible particulate in sterile injectable products were pieces of cardboard but closed the investigations without taking further corrective action. The inspection also identified poor aseptic technique due to the use of unsterilized materials in an aseptic manufacturing environment. The FDA also determined that Hospira failed to submit field alert reports to the agency after the manufacturer identified numerous cases of extensive label deterioration.

An announcement by Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. indicates the company’s position that the warning letter should not impact the production of Momenta’s Glatopa™ 20 mg (glatiramer acetate injection) product, which is filled and finished by Pfizer. However, Momenta’s Glatopa 40 mg abbreviated new drug application (ANDA), which is still under FDA review, is dependent on the “satisfactory resolution of the compliance observations at the Pfizer facility used to make the final product.” As a result, Momenta indicated that approval in the first quarter of 2017 is unlikely.

FDA tells manufacturers what it means to be an accessory

The FDA encourages manufacturers of medical device accessories to use the de novo classification process under Section 513(f)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDC Act). In a new guidance document, the FDA explains the definition of accessory for FDC Act purposes, the regulation of such devices, and the process by which manufacturers can obtain a risk-based classification of a new accessory type.

Background

Under Section 201(h) of the FDC Act, the definition of the term “device” includes “accessories.” Thus, all accessories to articles meeting the definition of device, are, themselves, devices. The classification of device accessories has historically taken on one of two methods: (1) shared classification with a “parent” device or (2) by issuance of a unique classification for the accessory. In the second circumstance, an accessory obtains a unique classification because the FDA determines that a classification regulation for an accessory should be separate from that of the corresponding parent device—a designation typically reserved for accessory types that may be used with multiple parent devices or that have unique standalone functions. However, the FDA recognized that some accessories have a lower risk profile than that of their parent device and, therefore, warrant a lower classification. Section 513(b) of the FDC Act was amended by the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255) to reflect that thinking with a category of classification known as de novo classification.

Accessories

After the FDA determines that an article is an accessory, the agency determines whether the article is intended for use with one or more parent devices and then asks whether the article is intended to support, supplement, and/or augment the performance of one or more parent devices. The guidance explains that an article does not become an accessory simply by virtue of the fact that it is used in conjunction with another device. For example, the FDA would not consider a mobile phone to be an accessory merely because it is used as a general platform for applications that include mobile medical applications that are themselves medical devices.

De novo classification

Under Section 513(f)(2) of the FDC Act, the FDA may classify an accessory of a new type under the de novo classification process. Such a classification request is a request for risk- and regulatory control-based classification of a new type of accessory. To fall into the classification of “new category type,” the accessory under consideration should not be previously classified or the subject of any approved premarket approvals (PMAs) or cleared 510(k)s for that accessory type. The de novo classification is intended as a pathway to Class I and Class II device classification for accessories for which general controls or general and special controls provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness, despite the lack of legally marketed predicate device.

Submission and classification

A manufacturer of a medical device accessory, who submits a de novo classification request, must include a description of the device and detailed information regarding the reasons for the recommended classification. The FDA is obligated to make a classification determination for the device, by written order, within 120 days of the request. If the submitter satisfies the regulatory criteria (i.e. presents an accessory for which general controls or general and special controls provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness) the FDA will grant the de novo request, classifying the new accessory (and new accessory type) as Class I or Class II. The FDA will then publish an announcement in the Federal Register of the new classification and the general and special controls necessary to assure safety and effectiveness for the device type.