During the Trump administration, the number of consumer product safety recalls fell for three years in a row. When Robert Adler became Acting Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2019, he compared his role to that of a caretaker. Now, under the Biden administration, the CPSC is undergoing a shift toward increased regulation and more aggressive enforcement. Acting Chair Adler confirmed the same earlier this year, stating that the Biden administration “clearly views product safety in different terms,” and that he “plan[s] to modify [his] job’s metaphor from caretaker to gardener.”
This shift in thinking is evident in the CPSC’s actions in recent months. Since President Biden’s inauguration, the CPSC has announced 57 product recalls in addition to a $7.95 million civil penalty settlement with Cybex International, Inc. for alleged failure to immediately report a known product safety defect related to its exercise equipment. And on April 17, the CPSC issued an urgent warning to consumers to stop using the Peloton Tread+ exercise machine around small children or pets. The CPSC noted that though its investigation of reported incidents of injury or death related to the machine was still ongoing, it had “found that the public health and safety requires this notice to warn the public quickly of the hazard.”
The exact dollar amount that third-party investors infuse in U.S. lawsuits every year is unknown, but conservative estimates begin around $2.3 billion, with agreement that the industry has room to grow. With the ongoing pandemic stretching litigation timelines and straining budgets, the litigation funding industry remains highly active. Despite the importance of litigation funding to all parties involved (lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants), regulation varies by state, and litigation funders are largely left to self-regulate.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled “Exploring the use of Real-World Data to Generate Real-World Evidence in Regulatory Decision-Making (U01) Clinical Trials Optional.” The FOA relates to the FDA’s RWE Framework published in December 2018, and is issued “to support research projects that examine real-world data (RWD), real-world evidence (RWE), and related issues such as data analytics, the use of digital health tools, and innovative trial designs utilizing healthcare settings.”
The FOA specifically seeks the submission of proposed projects that explore the utility of RWD and RWE in the generation of evidence supporting regulatory approval of new indications of use or post-approval study requirements for approved medicines. The FDA defines RWD as “data relating to patient health status and/or the delivery of health care routinely collected from a variety of sources.” RWE is “clinical evidence about the use and potential benefits or risks of a medical product derived from analysis of RWD.”