Pursuant to section 510(k) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (downloadable below), a firm who must register and is required to notify FDA of their intent to market a medical device at least 90 days in advance. This is known as Premarket Notification – also called PMN or 510(k). This allows FDA to determine whether the device is equivalent to a device already placed into one of the three classification categories. Thus, “new” devices (not in commercial distribution prior to May 28, 1976) that have not been classified can be properly identified. Specifically, medical device manufacturers are required to submit a premarket notification if they intend to introduce a device into commercial distribution for the first time or reintroduce a device that will be significantly changed or modified to the extent that its safety or effectiveness could be affected. Such change or modification could relate to the design, material, chemical composition, energy source, manufacturing process, or intended use.
Each person who wants to market in the U.S., a Class I, II, and III device intended for human use, for which a Premarket Approval (PMA) is not required, must submit a 510(k) to FDA unless the device is exempt from 510(k) requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and does not exceed the limitations of exemptions in .9 of the device classification regulation chapters (e.g., 21 CFR 862.9, 21 CFR 864.9). There is no 510(k) form, however, 21 CFR 807 Subpart E describes requirements for a 510(k) submission. Before marketing a device, each submitter must receive an order, in the form of a letter, from FDA which finds the device to be substantially equivalent (SE) and states that the device can be marketed in the U.S. This order “clears” the device for commercial distribution.
A 510(k) is a premarket submission made to FDA to demonstrate that the device to be marketed is at least as safe and effective, that is, substantially equivalent, to a legally marketed device (21 CFR 807.92(a)(3)) that is not subject to PMA. Submitters must compare their device to one or more similar legally marketed devices and make and support their substantial equivalency claims. A legally marketed device, as described in 21 CFR 807.92(a)(3), is a device that was legally marketed prior to May 28, 1976 (preamendments device), for which a PMA is not required, or a device which has been reclassified from Class III to Class II or I, or a device which has been found SE through the 510(k) process.
The legally marketed device(s) to which equivalence is drawn is commonly known as the “predicate.” Although devices recently cleared under 510(k) are often selected as the predicate to which equivalence is claimed, any legally marketed device may be used as a predicate. Legally marketed also means that the predicate cannot be one that is in violation of the Act.
Until the submitter receives an order declaring a device SE, the submitter may not proceed to market the device. Once the device is determined to be SE, it can then be marketed in the U.S. The SE determination is usually made within 90 days and is made based on the information submitted by the submitter.
Please note that FDA does not perform 510(k) pre-clearance facility inspections. The submitter may market the device immediately after 510(k) clearance is granted. The manufacturer should be prepared for an FDA quality system (21 CFR 820) inspection at any time after 510(k) clearance.
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