Medical Devices and the FDA

Medical devices constitute a very huge and complex field. Devices can range from anything between a thermometer and a pacemaker. The FDA, the US’ food and drug regulatory body, has a definition for devices. It considers a medical device as “an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component part, or accessory which is:
o recognized in the official National Formulary, or the United States Pharmacopoeia, or any supplement to them,
o intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals, or
o intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals, and which does not achieve any of its primary intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body of man or other animals and which is not dependent upon being metabolized for the achievement of any of its primary intended purposes.”
The FDA has a stellar role in regulating the medical devices industry. It is the sole regulatory body for medical devices, a role it has assumed considering the serious health implications even a small fault in a device can cause.
What is meant by FDA approval?
An FDA approval for medical devices means that the said product is ready and certified as being ready for marketing. Any and every manufacturer has to get FDA approval for marketing advice. It has to get this clearance through a premarket notification, or what is called 510 (K). The FDA will clear the device that has been sent to it for approval, or reject it. If the device meets the stringent criteria set by the FDA for approval, then it is considered an approved.
What a cleared or approved medical device means is that the FDA deems it to be at least as safe as another device that has already been marketed and is put to the same use. The treatment application for this clearance should have proof to show that the present medical device, whose clearance is sought, exhibits this quality.
Is 510(K) necessary for all medical devices?
The answer is ‘no’. Not all devices need to go through a 510(K) process. Devices that are classified under, meaning those that pose the least risk to the user do not need 510 (K). Only a few Class II and all Class III devices, which entail a higher risk to the user, are subject to a 510 (K) premarket approval (PMA).