What a great conference! This year’s RAPS Convergence conference in Phoenix was outstanding by many measures. Not only was this the first time in quite a while that our community has had a chance to network in person, but our team also reported that the quality of conversations and presentations far surpassed their expectations. Kudos to the RAPS conference team for putting together a valuable and memorable experience.
We asked our team to share their thoughts about the conference, along with information they learned while attending sessions or in conversation with other RA professionals. We’ve compiled their thoughts below.
The consensus from our team was that this conference attracted a really good group of knowledgeable regulatory professionals and that the majority of sessions were incredibly informative. Everyone referenced great conversations they had throughout the conference.
There were a lot of discussions around the challenges that RA teams face today, and what can be done to ease the burden of regulatory professionals in the face of ever-changing requirements across the globe.
I was impressed by the consistently high level of quality in the conversations I had. Every person I spoke with had an intimate understanding of the challenges currently faced by industry and expressed a willingness to engage in conversation about how to improve things. While there are clearly significant challenges to overcome, I am bullish about the future.
And regulatory teams are looking for ways to be less reactive and find time for strategic planning to prepare for future challenges.
One of my biggest takeaways is the true shift in thinking that is happening within the industry in regard to the need to think strategically about supporting regulatory teams. In a number of conversations, it was mentioned that RA folks wished that they had more time to take a step back and have future-facing conversations, rather than just “keeping up” with their day-to-day activities.
We noticed how well-attended the sessions were and heard comments from a number of people that they were having trouble deciding which sessions to attend. RAPS has made presentation slide decks available to attendees through the conference website.
Reggie, our regulatory duck, was also a big hit! Did you get one of our duck t-shirts?
The conversation was animated during the CDRH Forum, which ended with FDA stating “Communication is key. We take all feedback seriously and we are consistently making improvements.” Discussions centered largely around MDUFA V and the use of eSTAR templates. FDA is focusing on addressing the rising volumes of premarket submissions. This includes hiring additional reviewers, better support of 3rd party reviews to eliminate the need for FDA re-review, improved deficiency letter communication, and the expansion of electronic templates for submissions (including use with PMAs). They see these methods plus others as helping the agency meet the performance requirements on MDUFA V.
EU Regulations: PMCF and SSCP
Industry frustration - both by Notified Bodies and manufacturers - clearly continues over the burdensome requirements around PMCF and SSCP. As a subset of PMS, a PMCF plan is critical to MDR compliance and mandatory for Class III and implantable devices. Having a good plan is key, and industry is struggling to figure out what to do with the data once it is collected.
Because the audience for SSCP documents is healthcare professionals and patients, manufacturers will have to conduct readability assessments for each Summary of Safety and Clinical Performance (SSCP) through computer-based software programs or layperson assessments in all languages used in the EU market.
While the EUDAMED UDI module isn’t expected to be mandatory until the second quarter of 2026, there are triggering events that will require a manufacturer to enter data into the UDI module earlier. For example, mandatory use of the EUDAMED Vigilance module is Q4, 2024. If you have to report a product in the Vigilance module, that product must also be entered into the UDI module at that time. Bruce McKean, Rimsys Director of Regulatory, says that “Manufacturers cannot wait, they must be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to UDI.”
During the Solution Circle on “How to efficiently prepare your eSTAR submission,” attendees learned that FDA plans to expand the program to include more submission types. eSTAR submissions require a larger number of files attached to the PDF checklist, compared to the number of files submitted under traditional submission programs. One recommendation was to prepare your submission completely before filling out the eSTAR template. It seems apparent that the eSTAR program is designed to make the review process simpler for agency reviewers, but does not simplify the creation of the submission by the manufacturers.
If you are submitting a 510(k) to address a product change, the eSTAR template requires that all subsections be completed, even if they are not applicable to the change. This means that previously submitted and cleared information goes under review again. To avoid this, the recommendation was made that submitters include justification for not resubmitting data in these sections, rather than including the original data.
It is believed that the current guidance will be made final by the end of September 2022 with a one-year transition period for 510(k) and De Novo submissions.
RAPS has announced that next year’s conference will be in Montreal, October 3-5. We look forward to seeing everyone there (and we are working on next year's t-shirt design already). After this year’s great conference, we can’t wait to see next year’s!