FDA highlights gaps in medtech quality

 

A new report by the FDA highlights weaknesses in medical device quality in the US over the past decade.

The FDA’s report, Understanding Barriers to Medical Device Quality, stated that while revenues in the medical technology industry have grown over the last ten years, “serious adverse events” have outpaced this growth by 8% each year.

Failures in medical device design and manufacturing process control were found to account for more than half of all product recalls.

“While medical device flaws may vary by device, some sources of error are pervasive throughout the field,” the report reads.

“Identifying and addressing systemic barriers may yield improvements in medical device quality on a large scale.”

The report was launched by the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in order to understand and improve gaps in device quality, and outlines recommendations for both industry and federal regulators.

The analysis found that “nearly 60% of the adverse event reports” involved cardiovascular, in vitro diagnostics and general hospital/surgical equipment.

“Our efforts revealed that there are systemic gaps within the medical device industry’s quality approach that result in these issues,” said the report. “Attempts to improve quality are hindered by challenges within the industry as well as specific aspects of the agency’s regulatory approach.”

According to the FDA, medtech manufacturers are facing a series of challenges which are impeding device quality, such as the increasing complexity of devices, time to market competition, and cost pressures.

Identified opportunities for improvement include postproduction monitoring and feedback, creating quality incentives, and improving design and engineering.

The report also cited steps for the FDA to incorporate, such as clarifying Agency requirements and learning from regulators of similar high-tech industries.

A similar initiative is underway in Europe to improve medical device regulatory assessment processes, with support from Eucomed.