Consideration of regulatory approval should be top of mind when making minor changes to current devices on the market to mitigate potential setbacks. The industry approach to chemistry testing is evolving rapidly, and any adjustments could put a device’s approval at risk. Whether a manufacturer alters a device’s nature or changes a material supplier, consider reviewing past biological evaluation data for potential gaps.
With the increased requirements for chemical characterization following ISO 10993-18:2020, regulators may view alterations as a chemical constituent concern. Changes to your device could likely require retesting to reduce future risk. Keep your device on track for approvals and in compliance by bringing in your testing partner when making any adjustments that could affect the material composition of the product.
A New Approach to Chemistry
Chemical characterization and toxicological risk assessments evaluate devices based on the nature and duration of device contact with the end-user. Devices face more scrutiny from regulators than ever before to meet the latest revision requirements to ISO 10993-18, which was released in early 2020.
To determine testing parameters and support a chemical characterization program to meet ISO 10993-18:2020, laboratories need an in-depth perspective on the production process, use scenarios and many other details to paint a clear picture of the device’s chemical constituents. That said, results may identify everything down to the mold release agents during extractable/leachable (E/L) testing. If previous data did not investigate to this same level, comparing past and present medical device risks might be inaccurate.
For example, if a lab identifies a carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductive toxicant (CMR) substance, or the level of unknowns is above the AET (analytical evaluation threshold), the device will likely need additional chemical characterization. Rather than risk receiving this feedback in an additional information request, manufacturers need to resolve their potential concerns before submission approval. Medical device companies should be aware of the signals that could show that their device may present a risk.
Red Flags for Reviewers
In some cases, companies may not realize the impact of altering their device’s nature or duration. In others, they may not recognize the impact a minor adjustment can have on device composition. Looking for these red flags for reviewers takes practice and a cross-functional approach to planning.
New Patient Populations
Expanding patient populations for clinical use could also put device compliance at stake. Devices intended for pediatric patients require lower body weight assumptions and CMR substances may be considered a more significant concern. For instance, many low-risk devices with high volume, single patient use are constructed using PVC containing phthalates, which typically is a cost-effective option. Regulators are vigilant in reviewing the risks of this material and ensuring the exposure levels are safe for the intended patient populations. If a device’s original population resulted in an acceptable margin of safety for such chemicals, but the new one does not, past chemical characterization data may not be sufficient to support product safety.
Any changes to exposure duration, specifically extending it in a manner that puts it into a new contact category, will likely require extensive chemical characterization. For example, initial chemical characterization testing on a limited duration device may have been done in an exaggerated study, utilizing a higher dose-based threshold (DBT) for the AET. If the device is now considered to have long-term contact, the initial extractable/leachable testing may no longer be appropriate for the new duration of contact, and further chemistry testing may be recommended. An exhaustive extraction with a lower DBT would then be expected based on the requirements of ISO 10993-18:2020.
When adding or changing suppliers, proceed with caution and consider testing the material even if the previously used material is an exact match. Like-materials are not all interchangeable or created equally. Often, a material that appears to have the same chemical profile can have significantly different impurities or additives that can produce drastically different chemical characterization profiles. Analyzing these materials is essential to maintaining compliance – and laboratories are eager to play a larger role in material selection.
Bring in Partners Sooner
Rather than making it through the design phase without understanding potential biological risks, bring your testing partner in early for guidance and support. If there are necessary changes to your device, intended population, duration or suppliers, check with your lab testing partner about how this may impact previous or upcoming biological evaluation strategy. Identifying these red flags and addressing the potential hurdles can help consolidate timelines, save money and decrease the likeliness of additional information requests.
Understanding how changes like material modifications, production adjustments or patient population expansions can impact your device will ultimately set you up for a smoother regulatory process. For additional background on the thinking behind medical device chemistry testing, read our blog, “Extraction techniques: Designing the right studies to get the answers you need.”
WuXi AppTec provides a broad portfolio of R&D and manufacturing services that enable companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries worldwide to advance discoveries and deliver groundbreaking treatments to patients. As an innovation-driven and customer-focused company, WuXi AppTec helps our partners improve the productivity of advancing healthcare products through cost-effective and efficient, socially responsible and sustainable solutions. With industry-leading capabilities such as R&D and manufacturing for small molecule drugs, cell and gene therapies, and testing for medical devices, WuXi AppTec’s open-access platform is enabling more than 4,100 collaborators from over 30 countries to improve the health of those in need – and to realize our vision that “every drug can be made and every disease can be treated.”
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