This past January, the American Red Cross announced that the United States was facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a significant risk to patient care and causing doctors to make difficult decisions in determining which patients should be prioritized for blood transfusions given the dwindling supply. The staggering decrease in blood and platelet donations can be attributed to the global COVID-19 pandemic driving up the need for donations and the hesitancy people have had to leave their homes over the past two years. Even in this desperate time of need for blood, gay and bisexual men in America are still prevented from donating because of discrimination.
In October 2021, ProPublica published an article about a rare and virulent strain of salmonella infantis outbreak that occurred in May 2018, afflicting at least a dozen people across the country. Many who reported being sick reported that they ate chicken, and federal food safety inspectors found the infantis strain in packaged chicken breasts, sausages, and wings during routine inspections at poultry plants.
On February 23, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed regulation to amend current manufacturing practice requirements of the Quality System Regulation (QSR) (21 CFR Part 820). The FDA first announced such harmonization in 2018, however COVID-19 delayed the proposal. The FDA seeks to align Part 820 more closely with the international specific standard for medical device quality management systems set out by the International Organization for Standardizations (ISO) 13485. According to the FDA, such “harmonization should provide patients more efficient access to necessary devices, leading to improvements of life quality of the consumers.” Part 820 is part of the current mandatory regulations that ensure that all medical devices created and developed within the US market are safe. ISO 13485 is the international standard for a quality management system for medical devices required by certain countries. Therefore, any manufacturer that sells outside the US will likely need to be ISO 13485 certified. With the implementation of this new amendment, manufacturers would be able to assure their products are regulatorily compliant in both the US and international markets.
When people hear the phrase “regulatory compliance”, they often think about the finance, banking, or tech industry – not the business of loose and pressed leaves. In fact, the tea industry has been on the rise and is projected to reach almost $69 billion by 2027. Within that market, the green tea segment is the highest growth contributor with an estimated $16 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach almost $26 billion by 2027. This leafy market comes with its own set of compliance issues and a potential for growth this year.
As my colleague at Inside Compliance discussed here in September, the FDA approved Aducanumab for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease on June 7, 2021. Aducanumab, marketed as Aduhelm, is intended to reduce beta-amyloid levels. This compound is responsible for forming a “plaque” which inhibits neuron function and eventually triggers neuronal apoptosis (death of neurons). Now, a recent decision by CMS on insurance reimbursement for aducanumab has increased the compliance responsibilities of providers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partnered with the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to address the high cost of prescription drugs. While the FDA possesses the authority to approve generic, lower cost drugs, the USPTO has an important and symbiotic role in bringing affordable drugs to market by blocking anti-competitive patent extensions. FDA-USPTO collaboration has gained congressional support and is the subject of key pieces of new legislation.
For the first time in about twenty years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug to combat the progression of Alzheimer’s. The newly approved drug is manufactured by Biogen and will be called Aduhelm. The FDA granted fast track designation of the drug to speed up access to patients. While Aduhelm will not reverse already developed Alzheimer’s symptoms, it will slow down the advancement of the disease by removing deposits of beta-amyloid, a protein found in early-stage Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.
As you read this, you’re most likely using a phone or laptop that carries a few patents. A patent is awarded to a person or company in order to protect their intellectual property. Protection of intellectual property rests on the idea that one should be compensated for the time and effort required to produce the patented medium, while others should not be able to profit from the work of another. The patents awarded to your phone or laptop manufacturer allow them recoup research and development expenses and remain competitive against competition. However, the patent system can be abused through patent evergreening and patent thicketing. Evergreening is the practice of obtaining a secondary patent on a slightly modified version of the original patented medium. Thicketing protects the patented medium by creating a web of overlapping or interdependent patents. Recent legislation aims to empower the FDA to decline patent extensions when the slightly modified version of a drug does not yield a clinical benefit.
As of April 22, 2021, 218,947,643 million people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Before or during the appointment, your provider directs you to a fact sheet for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. On the fact sheet, there were a couple of sentences that caught my eye “The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a vaccine and may prevent you from getting COVID-19. There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.” When I read this, I wanted more information about the difference is between being authorized or approved. Like many people, one can become hesitant when a product is not adequately tested; in fact, a Kaiser research project shows about 30% of people probably or definitely not get the vaccine.
Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced a scheduled meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (“VRBPAC”) to discuss the request for emergency use authorization (“EUA”) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Janssen Biotech Inc. The FDA has just under three weeks to complete its report before the VRBPAC’s meeting to make its recommendation on the vaccine. The review process may be more challenging than the past two reviews for Pfizer and Moderna due to the composition differences and effectiveness.