FDA: International Device Inspections Increased 243%

FDA says more inspections at international medical device manufacturing sites is leading to improved compliance. A new report details the findings.

FDA says more inspections at international medical device manufacturing sites is leading to improved compliance. A new report details the findings.
FDA says more inspections at international medical device manufacturing sites is leading to improved compliance. A new report details the findings.

“As medical device manufacturing has become an increasingly global enterprise, the FDA has taken forceful action to increase inspections of medical device firms, especially those located in foreign countries,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a recent FDA in Brief release.

“Over the past decade, we’ve increased the annual number of international device inspections by 243 percent taking into account that quality system issues are more likely to occur in firms located overseas.”

Shuren notes that this increased oversight has led to tangible results, as published in the new Medical Device Enforcement and Quality Report. “Today’s report also highlights results from a pilot initiative we launched this year using a third-party system to provide an assessment or appraisal of a firm to determine if there are any gaps in manufacturing processes or quality systems. This appraisal program is designed to improve manufacturing quality and processes and has led to 32 appraisals involving 18 manufacturers who reported overwhelmingly that the appraisal had a positive impact on the quality of their devices. These efforts are another demonstration of the agency’s commitment to ensuring medical devices are safe and effective throughout the total product lifecycle.”

Other report highlights:

  • The annual number of device inspections has increased by 46 percent, while annual inspections of foreign firms has increased by 243 percent.

  • The Medical Device Single Audit Program was establishedto allow for the conduct of a single audit of a medical device manufacturer’s quality management system on behalf of multiple countries, which has further increased the FDA’s oversight of foreign manufacturing facilities beyond the inspections the agency performs on its own.

  • The FDA has taken a targeted risk-based approach to addressing concerns with specific devices and the report includes several case studies of devices like infusion pumps and automated external defibrillators, where increased compliance actions and voluntary recalls have led through the years to better compliance, improved device quality, and a reduction in reported injuries and deaths in patients.

  • The FDA’s focus on identifying reporting deficiencies during inspections has led to an increase in voluntary recalls and adverse event reporting. New data show that most firms have corrected violations on follow-up inspections.

  • The FDA has taken steps to promote device quality, not just compliance, with regulations through the Case for Quality initiative that includes a voluntary quality maturity appraisal pilot launched this year.

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