The US Food and Drug Administration plans to establish a new market authorization pathway for innovative and breakthrough medical devices that would replace current priority review programs including the Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) and the Priority Review Program.
Mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act, the Breakthrough Devices Program will incorporate elements from the EAP, Innovation Pathway and Priority Review Program to expedite development and regulatory review of cutting-edge devices targeting serious diseases and conditions.
The FDA draft guidance explains how the agency plans to implement the Breakthrough Devices Program, as well as some if its features intended to ease US market entry for qualifying devices.
FDA premarket registration applicants that qualify for the Breakthrough Devices Program will undergo priority review, which entails moving to the front of the review queue and receiving additional review resources, according to the guidance.
FDA notes, however, that although the new program is designed to expedite commercialization of breakthrough devices, the agency’s track record with previous priority review programs shows that review timeframes can sometimes take longer than for more conventional device registrations because of these products’ novel components. Instead, other features of the program including more interactive and earlier communication with registrants during their device development processes will help expedite market authorization of breakthrough devices, argues the agency.
“We believe that the Breakthrough Devices Program may enable patients to have more timely access to these devices than they would otherwise because of the earlier interaction between FDA and sponsors during the device development process,” states the guidance.
Other key elements of the new FDA expedited program include:
In order to qualify for participation in the Breakthrough Devices Program, a device must meet the following requirements listed in the guidance:
One key criterion—whether a device utilizes breakthrough technology—begs the question, what is a breakthrough technology according to FDA?
In the guidance, the agency defines breakthrough technology as that which provides “the potential for a device to lead to a clinical improvement in the diagnosis, treatment…cure, mitigation or prevention of the life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating condition.”
Examples provided in the guidance include a transcatheter heart valve delivered transcutaneously, thereby obviating the need for open heart surgery; an internal hemostatic device to temporarily control bleeding; and gene signature tests providing prognostic data for cancer patients to help determine optimal treatment strategies.