The United States’ recent False Claims Act (“FCA”) prosecution in United States v. Prometheus Group, et al., is a reminder that the government will use the FCA to target medical device manufacturers for off-label use of medical devices, even where healthcare providers have decided the use is safe and effective. In Prometheus Group, the government alleges that the defendant medical device manufacturer trained providers to re-use disposable rectal probes against U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) recommendations, causing the providers to submit false claims for payment to Medicare for the services mis-using the probes. The complaint alleges that Prometheus put vulnerable Medicare patients at risk to gain a marketing advantage by reducing overhead costs associated with its systems. The message to medical device manufacturers is clear: even without submitting claims to the government themselves, manufacturers can face FCA liability for suggesting providers use their devices in any way the FDA has not approved (and in this case, warned against).
Keeley McCarty is an associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.
On December 22, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published draft guidance documents for manufacturers of devices that were issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) or were subject to relaxed enforcement policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acknowledging that the COVID-19 emergency will not last forever, the FDA’s recent draft guidances propose a 180-day transition path back to “normal operations,” i.e., compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and regulatory requirements. The transition periods, which would begin (in most cases) 180 days after the end of the public health emergency (PHE), would allow manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and other stakeholders to avoid supply disruptions and product shortages. Following the transition period, manufacturers who want to continue selling covered devices would be expected to comply with all the usual regulatory requirements. Manufacturers who do not wish to continue distribution post-PHE could keep business as usual through the end of the 180-day transition period. Comments on the draft guidance are due on March 23, 2022. The guidance for EUA devices can be found here, and for devices marketed under COVID-19 enforcement policies, here.
Continue Reading FDA Releases Guidances on Transition Plan for Devices Distributed Under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or Enforcement Policies During COVID-19
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been developing and shifting its guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, during COVID-19. The Agency has articulated its guidelines for PPE in one of two ways: (1) through guidance documents and (2) through issuance of “umbrella” Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) that cover certain product types. EUAs have the benefit of potentially providing manufacturers, distributors, and users of PPE with broad liability protections under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act (so long as the requirements and conditions of the EUA and the PREP Act declaration are met).
Continue Reading Navigating FDA Policies for PPE, and Liability Protections
Immunity under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act is a moving target for government contractors and other companies manufacturing or distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 public health response. We wrote previously about new liability protections afforded to manufacturers and distributors of certain face masks approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the later expanded scope of that protection provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act and amended PREP Act declaration by Department of Health and Human Services. Until recently, the list of devices eligible for liability immunity seemed to be continuously growing as the COVID-19 public health response required more and more PPE. But last week, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) took a significant step back, retracting its Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) for respirators from 75 manufacturers in China, which previously had been approved for use in the response to COVID-19. This retraction has the additional effect of disqualifying government contractors, and other companies that distribute newly unauthorized respirators, from PREP Act immunity in connection with these devices.
Continue Reading Not So Fast – FDA Retracts Authorization for Some Respirators Made in China