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FDA Works on Draft ID System for Medical Devices, Supplies

Once finalized, the new requirements could help drive the adoption of RFID in the medical supply chain and the reporting of adverse events.
By Beth Bacheldor
The electronic Medical Device Reporting (eMDR) process is an optional electronic filing component of the required MDR. Electronic filing would enable CDRH to more quickly review and act on the reports, says Indira Konduri, eMDR project manager with CDRH, because "it takes time to get these reports into the system. Also, we'd be able to save [on] the costs associated with manual entry." CDRH receives hundreds of thousands of such reports each year (in 2005, it received more than 200,000), all of which are filed manually.

CDRH has developed two methods to submit reports electronically. The first, designed for reports to be submitted one at a time, leverages an XML-based application that can be downloaded from the Web. The second, for batch filings, requires some software coding; to that end, CDRH is offering a detailed implementation guide containing technical specifications.

The eMDR rules do not call for any automated identification mechanisms. However, each filing must include information specific to the device involved in the event, including its model number, lot number, expiration date and serial number.

The UDI system has the potential to ensure that the device-specific information is consistent and detailed enough to help narrow efforts in the event of a recall. "I can see a link between UDI and eMDR," Konduri says. "Suppose a device is truly defective and recalls need to be done. If, for example, we have more specific information about the device, we can narrow down on lot numbers and find out if there's just one device involved, or an entire lot. UDI makes the information more helpful."

CDRH is encouraging device manufacturers to begin testing eMDR by either downloading the XML-based application or following the technical guide for software coding to allow electronic filing of batch reports. The agency is now conducting pilots and is already receiving electronic reports from at least one company.

What's more, CDRH is working on a draft rule to make it mandatory for MDRs to be submitted electronically. The draft is not yet complete, and will first have to go through a normal process of soliciting comments and revisions before it is adopted, which may happen in 2008.

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