U.S. FDA commissioners must rely on legal counsel for advice on a number of matters, but attorneys who sign on for work at the agency bring with them different views on the limitations of the agency’s powers. This consideration came up during a panel discussion hosted by the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI).
The COVID-19 pandemic has done little to encourage bipartisan comity in Washington, and the Oct. 2 hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis reflected that partisan tension. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar noted, however, that the department is doing its best to cooperate with oversight of the vaccine program by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), but that the nearly three dozen GAO requests for oversight have come at a difficult time.
The U.S. FDA’s effort to compile a guidance for prescription, point-of-care (POC) blood glucose meter (BGM) test systems seems to show that guidances can be as iterative as the devices they govern. The FDA announcement for the Sept. 28, 2020, final guidance said that the differences between the 2020 final and the 2018 draft include “a minor edit” regarding user accessibility and a technical correction for hemoglobin testing concentration, yielding a document that is finally ready for prime time after four tries over six years.
The U.S. FDA’s Accreditation Scheme for Conformity Assessment (ASCA) program is intended to foster med-tech regulatory harmonization, but stakeholders saw a number of issues with the September 2019 ASCA draft guidance.
Edwards Lifesciences Corp. reported better-than-expected results when it released its second quarter earnings late July 23, with revenue down 15% to $924 million, from $1.1 billion in the same period of 2019. The results beat Wall Street consensus of $797.5 million, and reflected an uptick in surgical procedures that had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Irvine, Calif.-based company sustained a net loss of $121.9 million, or $0.20 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), a sharp drop from $242.3 million, or $0.38 per share, in the same quarter last year. However, adjusted earnings looked brighter at $0.34 per share.
With COVID-19 causing deferments of medical procedures worldwide, Johnson & Johnson beat Wall Street estimates for the second quarter of 2020, with better than expected performance in its medical device segment. Worldwide sales for the unit totaled $4.29 billion, down 32.5% year over year on an adjusted operational basis vs. the Street’s projected 47% decline.
Diversified health care player Abbott Laboratories did better than expected when it reported second quarter earnings. The Abbott Park, Ill.-based company is one of the earliest to start reporting for this period, which in the U.S. was characterized by an initial heavy impact from the ongoing pandemic.
The U.S. FDA has a number of draft guidances in queue thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but released two final guidances in mid-July, including the guidance for clinical investigations for prostate tissue ablation devices. Stakeholders pressed the agency to avoid a fixed period of follow-up for such studies due to variability in the elapsed time for device-related adverse events, but the agency stuck to the draft’s mandate for at least a year of follow-up.
One simple four-letter word can make a world of difference in how quickly biosimilars and interchangeables bring full competition to the U.S. marketplace of biologics, a handful of companies and industry groups told the FDA in comments on a draft guidance concerning the labeling of follow-ons that are licensed for fewer indications than the reference biologic.