New FDA Policy on Homeopathic Drugs Survives Preliminary Injunction Appeal

Overview

The FDA’s recent policy shift regarding homeopathic drugs was recently supported by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in MediNatura v. FDA, No. 20-5341 (D.C. Cir. 2021), when it upheld the denial of a preliminary injunction to block the FDA from withdrawing a longstanding enforcement policy regarding homeopathic drug products.

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FDA Solicits Feedback to Create Consistent Process for Labeling Devices

The Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health is soliciting feedback on how materials information about medical devices should be communicated to patients and healthcare providers. On May 20, 2021, the FDA published a discussion paper titled Conveying Materials Information about Medical Devices to Patients and Healthcare Providers: Considerations for a Framework. With a goal of stimulating discussion among stakeholders, the paper outlines several factors to consider for labeling devices so that providers can make well-informed decisions about which devices may be most appropriate for their patients.

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CPSC’s Expanding Role under the Biden Administration

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.”

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FDA Announces Increased Inspections and Enforcement Actions, Additional Guidance to Reduce Toxic Elements in Food for Babies and Young Children

On March 5, 2021, FDA issued a public statement announcing regulatory actions to reduce toxic elements — with a particular focus on arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury — in food for babies and young children. FDA cited the risk heavy metals pose to infant and young children’s neurological development. The Agency indicated that it would take the following actions:

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Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Breast Implant Cases on Preemption Grounds

The Ninth Circuit has confirmed in quadrophonic sound that plaintiffs cannot avoid preemption by relying on vague and speculative allegations to establish a parallel claim.  The court affirmed the dismissal of four lawsuits by plaintiffs claiming they were injured by breast implants on the grounds that their claims are barred by the 1976 Medical Device Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (MDA).  Sewell v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56393; Vieira v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56394; Billetts v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56398; Nunn v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC, et al., no. 19-56391.

In each case, California plaintiffs alleged their breast implants were defective and caused them to experience fatigue, muscle pain, and migraines.  The district courts dismissed the complaints for failure to state a claim on grounds of preemption, and plaintiffs appealed.

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FDA Issues Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products During COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter ways of life across the globe, clinical trials must be adapted for participant safety while maintaining accuracy in the midst of the ongoing crisis. In September 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its “Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” providing specific recommendations for ongoing or upcoming clinic trial activities.

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