The government’s system for regulating many medical devices should be abandoned and replaced because it fails to examine their safety and effectiveness before sale, according to one of the nation’s top scientific groups.

In a report, released Friday, a panel of the Institute of Medicine found that the existing rules were never intended to provide safeguards for screening out dangerous or ineffective products. The panel urged the FDA to devise a new regulatory system for the so-called moderate risk devices — a category that now includes artificial hips, external heart defibrillators and hospital pumps — because the current system was not fixable.

“If you want to make sure that a product is safe and effective, you have to start by asking the question whether it is safe and effective,” says William Vodra, a member of the 12-person panel assembled by Institute of Medicine and a lawyer who has worked closely with device producers.

The report, which was commissioned by the FDA, follows a number of recalls of medical devices, like one involving so-called metal-on-metal artificial hips that have failed in thousands of patients, crippling some of them. Those implants received little, if any, testing in patients prior to being implanted in tens of thousands of people.

The report’s findings are certain to touch off an intense lobbying battle over the shape of any future regulations, as device companies moved quickly to attack the study’s findings. Even before the report’s release, allies of the industry had waged an aggressive campaign to discredit it, and had taken legal steps intended to bar the FDA from adopting its recommendations.


Link to the study.

[Source: The New York Times]