FDA Offers Guidance on 3-D Printed Products

The changes will affect existing guidance on general wellness products and mobile medical applications

The changes will affect existing guidance on general wellness products and mobile medical applications

"All health facilities, both public and private, whether they are for orthodox or alternative medical practices, are to ensure that all medical devices, prior to their importation into the country and use within the facilities, must be registered by the FDA", it stated. These new guidances come on the heels of the final guidance the FDA released Monday about 3-D printed medical devices.

A December 4 statement from FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that "3D printing of medical devices, medications, and human tissue is quickly becoming a promising reality".

He said the agency has reviewed more than 100 devices now on the market that were manufactured on 3D printers, such as knee replacements and implants created to fit into a patient's skull for facial reconstruction. "Examples include knee replacements and implants created to fit like a missing puzzle piece into a patient's skull for facial reconstruction", Gottlieb said.

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The agency claimed December 4 to be the world's first to provide a comprehensive technical framework to advise manufacturers creating medical products on 3D printers.

"This is likely just the tip of the iceberg given the exponential growth of innovative research in this field", he said. "Further down the road, there is the potential for this same technology to eventually be used to develop replacement organs". "We're also helping to advance the field of regulatory science with state-of-the-art 3D printing facilities located on the FDA's campus". "FDA engineers in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health have been conducting research using their own 3D-printing facility to investigate the effect of design changes on the safety and performance of devices, and to determine how iterative changes alter the device's fit and functionality".

FDA published "Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices", a guidance document for industry and the FDA staff, on Dec.5 and said it is the world's first agency to provide a comprehensive technical framework to advise manufacturers creating medical products on 3D printers. "This research also helps inform us, as regulators, to help us understand the policy framework needed to ensure the quality and safety of 3D printed products". It includes FDA's thinking on various approaches to 3D printing, including device design, testing of products for function and durability, and quality system requirements. Overall, it will help manufacturers bring their innovations to market more efficiently by providing a transparent process for future submissions and making sure FDA's regulatory approach is properly tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges posed by this promising new technology, said Gottlieb's statement.

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The technical guidance is only meant to provide FDA's initial thoughts on the emerging technology, and Gottlieb said the agency's recommendations are likely to evolve as the technology does.

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