Subject: Regulatory and Industry Standards

510(k) Clearance Precludes Punitive Damages in Arizona

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We know the plaintiffs’ bar’s feelings about the FDA’s 510(k) clearance process. They tell the jury and the court it is antiquated. They say it does not constitute a finding of safety or efficacy. They do all they can to paint the FDA’s regulatory clearance process as meaningless and not worthy of consideration by a judge or jury. Such arguments may have some vitality in some jurisdictions. But, as we learned twice again in the last month, not in Arizona.

Back in 2012, the Arizona legislature passed a law stating that a manufacturer may not be held liable for exemplary or punitive damages if “[t]he product alleged to have caused the harm was designed, manufactured, packaged, labeled, sold or represented . . . according to the terms of an approval, conditional approval, clearance, license or similar determination of a government agency.” A.R.S. § 12-689(A)(1). The statute broadly defined “manufacturer” to include those engaged in designing, manufacturing, or formulating a product. A.R.S. § 12-689(D)(3). And it further defined “government agency” to mean any federal or Arizona agency with authority “to issue rules, regulations, orders or standards concerning the design, manufacture, packaging, labeling or advertising of a product[.]” A.R.S. § 12-689(D)(2).

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FDA Approves First Interchangeable Biological Product Under BPCIA

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On July 28, the FDA approved the country’s first interchangeable biosimilar product. Semglee (insulin glargine-yfgn) is both biosimilar to, and interchangeable with, its reference product Lantus (insulin glargine).

Under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), biological products (e.g., vaccines and therapeutic antibodies) may come to market by showing that they are “biosimilar” to or “interchangeable” with a “reference product,” which is a biological product that has already been approved by the FDA. A biological product is “biosimilar” if it is “highly similar to the reference product notwithstanding minor differences in clinically inactive components” and “there are no clinically meaningful differences between the biological product and the reference product in terms of the safety, purity, and potency of the product.” 42 U.S.C. § 262(i)(2). To date, 28 biological products have been approved as biosimilars.

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Pushing Back Against the CPSC – Is a Mandatory Recall on the Horizon for Peloton’s Treadmills?

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Peloton Interactive, Inc. (Peloton) are clashing over whether the media, technology, and fitness company should issue a recall of its treadmill, the Peloton Tread+.  The disagreement came to a head on Saturday, April 17, when the CPSC and Peloton issued competing statements after failing to agree on language to be used in a joint announcement regarding the Tread+.  This dispute raises the question, “What now?”

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Preemption Torpedoes State Law Claims against Generics Makers in Zantac MDL

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A judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida presiding over the In Re: Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation multidistrict litigation, MDL No. 2924, has held that state labeling and design defect claims against the makers, re-packagers, retailers, and distributors of generic forms for the popular heartburn medication Zantac were preempted by federal law.  The court subsequently dismissed these claims against 32 such Zantac generics makers and distributors.

The Zantac MDL was created by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on February 6, 2020.  The plaintiffs allege that ranitidine, the active ingredient in Zantac and its generic forms, breaks down into N-nitrosodimethylamine (“NDMA”), which is part of a group of compounds that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer. The plaintiffs allege a variety of product liability and related claims against the makers and distributors of Zantac and its generic forms under federal and state laws.

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Northern District of California Sours Plaintiff’s Claims against “Vanilla” Soymilk Maker

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The Northern District of California recently dismissed a Plaintiff’s claim that the term “vanilla” was misleading on the label of a soymilk product, but left the proverbial door open for the filing of an amended pleading.

In Clark v. Westbrae Natural, Inc., Case No. 20-cv-03221, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant’s use of the word “vanilla” on the label of its organic unsweetened soymilk misrepresented to consumers that the product’s vanilla flavor was derived exclusively from the vanilla bean plant. Gas chromatography‒mass spectrometry analyses showed that the flavor came from a non-vanilla source. Plaintiff alleged he would not have purchased the product had he realized the flavor was not derived from the vanilla bean, and asserted claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumers Legal Remedies Act.  He argued that the product should be labeled “artificially flavored.”

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FDA Issues Guidance for Applicants Seeking Biosimilar/Interchangeable Approval

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new draft guidance, Biosimilarity and Interchangeability: Additional Draft Q&As on Biosimilar Development and the BPCI Act, intended for prospective applicants of biologics license applications (BLAs) for biosimilar and interchangeable products, and for other parties interested in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCI Act). This new guidance aims to further facilitate the development of proposed biosimilar products and proposed interchangeable products.

The BPCI Act created an abbreviated licensure pathway for biological products shown to be biosimilar to, or interchangeable with, an FDA-licensed biological reference product. This newly released draft guidance is the third FDA question-and-answer guidance on the BPCI Act, with the previous two released in December 2018: Questions and Answers on Biosimilar Development and the BPCI Act Guidance for Industry and New and Revised Draft Q&As on Biosimilar Development and the BPCI Act (Revision 2).

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