April 20, 2024
Drug Device Combination Products

Drug Device Combination Products: Regulatory Considerations and Impact

Medical devices and pharmaceuticals have traditionally been regulated separately. However, the convergence of drugs and devices has led to the development of combination products that have therapeutic or diagnostic features of both. These drug-device combination products present unique regulatory challenges and offer new opportunities for patient care.

Regulatory Oversight

Drug Device Combination Products fall under the regulatory purview of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) within the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products where the primary mode of action is that of a drug are reviewed by CDER, while device-based products are reviewed by CDRH.

For combination products assigned to CDER, the standards for new drug approval under Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) are followed. This includes the demonstration of safety and effectiveness, primarily through clinical trials. Combination products assigned to CDRH are reviewed for safety and effectiveness under sections 510(k), 515, or 520(m) of the FD&C Act, depending on risk classification and predicate status.

Concerns around intercenter consistency and coordination led to the establishment of the Office of Combination Products (OCP) in 2002. OCP is responsible for assigning products to the appropriate FDA center and resolving any disputes that arise during the review process. It also serves as a liaison between CDER and CDRH to ensure reviews proceed smoothly.

Regulatory Challenges

While the OCP has streamlined FDA oversight of combination products, several challenges remain. Intercenter differences in standard operating procedures and review requirements can lead to delays. Demonstrating substantial equivalence for device components as well as clinical efficacy adds to complexity.

Modifications and manufacturing changes may require reclassification and re-evaluation. Global harmonization of combination product regulations also poses difficulties due to divergent medical product regimes across countries.

Despite regulatory hurdles, drug-device combination products present major commercial opportunities. Adding drug delivery capabilities expands treatment options for chronic conditions. Combining biologics with infusion pumps allows for convenient outpatient administration compared to frequent hospitalization.

Sensor-augmented drug delivery systems have transformed diabetes management through automated insulin delivery. Inhalable antibiotics combined with nebulizers improve efficacy for lung infections compared to oral formulations alone. Implantable drug-eluting stents and meshes avoid repeat surgeries for local disease treatment.

Standardizing combination product evaluation globally can accelerate access to innovative therapies. Advancing digital health platforms that integrate drugs, devices, and diagnostics will transform the prevention and management of complex diseases. Continuous monitoring capabilities of medical devices will better inform the dosing of precision medicines prescribed for individual patients.

As the lines between drugs and devices continue to blur, combination products will play an increasingly important therapeutic role. Though regulatory complexities exist, efforts to streamline oversight can support the development of next-generation treatments. Addressing unmet needs through convergent technologies has the potential to drastically improve patient outcomes. With coordinated FDA leadership and industry cooperation, combination products can shape the future of health care.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it