Things Are Looking Up On The US Regulatory/Policy Front
Going in to 2016, it's hard not to characterize the US regulatory and policy environment as positive for the medical device industry. There is a consensus that the FDA premarket review process in 2015 has become, on average, more efficient and more transparent that it was five to 10 years ago. And policymakers, if anything, are focused on furthering that trend.
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The agency has already signaled its plan to propose a new statutory pathway for combination products by the end of next year. In the meantime, it's working on a bevy of process changes, guidance documents and rules to enhance premarket and postmarket regulation of combination products in the years ahead. Office of Combination Products officials John Weiner and Thinh Nguyen weigh in.
As industry continues to nudge CMS to follow FDA's lead in making reforms that streamline the path to market for innovative new devices, the agencies are themselves floating solutions. All sides are thinking up strategies to rely on FDA's determination that a device meets certain "breakthrough" standards to trigger a streamlined path to data-conditioned reimbursement. But some in industry are concerned about an overemphasis on national, rather than local, coverage, and, in particular, the Medicare coverage-with-evidence-development process.
The 21st Century Cures bill passed on a 344-77 vote, attracting significant bipartisan support in the House. It includes multiple provisions supported by the device industry, including a priority review pathway for breakthrough devices. Attention now moves to the Senate, which is working on its own bill that could face budget barriers and calls for more safety protections.