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Volume XII, Number 275


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FDA 2018 Year in Review


The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 2018 regulatory agenda spurred significant activity throughout the year, including implementation of several initiatives and mandates required by the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). FDA continues to take measures to reduce regulatory barriers to market entry for innovative products, and it is leveraging traditional administrative processes, such as the citizen petition process, to advance its policy goals, including increasing generic competition. FDA initiated targeted enforcement actions in areas of traditional focus, such as good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliance, but it also signaled renewed focus on tobacco advertising, unapproved stem cell procedures, and compounding. FDA also issued important guidance documents throughout 2018.

This Special Report reviews notable actions that shaped FDA-regulated industries and products last year and offers insight into the agency’s 2019 priorities and expected actions.

  1. Drugs

  2. Digital Health

  3. Drug Quality Security Act Implementation

  4. Drug Supply Chain Security Act

  5. Medical Devices

  6. Laboratory-Developed Tests and Precision Medicine

  7. Food

  8. Tobacco

  9. Cannabis

  10. Advertising and Promotion

  11. Clinical Investigations

  12. Manufacturing and Good Manufacturing Practice

  13. Enforcement

The Year Ahead

FDA’s activities and initiatives in 2018 suggest that 2019 will bring greater focus on data strategy; patient perspectives; and innovative ways to leverage data to influence product development, risk management and regulatory decisions. The agency’s focus on data may lead to greater emphasis and renewed focus on data integrity and data quality issues throughout the product lifecycle, from clinical research to manufacturing. The continued focus on novel products and new expedited review processes for digital health, regenerative therapies and novel devices may mean fewer barriers to market entry for novel products, but it may also mean more significant post-market data collection and surveillance requirements. Policy and regulatory initiatives on cybersecurity and interoperability suggest the possibility of increased enforcement and scrutiny of these issues in standard quality and cGMP inspections. While warning letters and other FDA enforcement actions remain static, the agency appears to be leveraging procedural and administrative processes to influence broader policy objectives in areas such as drug pricing and generic competition. Life sciences companies may benefit from greater flexibility regarding the use of data from nontraditional sources to drive product development, advertising and promotion and quality. They may also benefit from the availability of a number of means to engage in pre-development and pre-submission discussions with the agency.

© 2022 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 8

About this Author

Vernessa Pollard Pharmaceutical Attorney McDermott

    Vernessa T. Pollard is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Washington, D.C., office. Vernessa serves as co-head of the Firm’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) practice.

    Vernessa advises companies on regulatory, compliance, enforcement and legislative matters involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital and mobile health, health IT solutions and services, and emerging technologies and software. She also advises national and international food and cosmetic producers and retailers on...

    T Reed Stephens Attorney McDermott Will

    T. Reed Stephens is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm's Washington, D.C., office.  Reed represents clients involved in the Life Sciences industry, including pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers, wholesalers, and individuals, as well as health care systems and non-health care related companies in the financial services industry.  In addition to representing clients in matters involving state and federal government law enforcement, voluntary disclosures, and congressional investigations Reed advises clients on mergers...

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    Michael Ryan Attorney specializing in Pharma law McDermott Law Firm

    Michael W. Ryan is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

    Michael focuses his practice on the legal, regulatory and reimbursement issues that manufacturers and investors encounter in the development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology products and laboratory services.  Michael counsels entities as they seek to obtain authorization to market their products from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, maintain compliance with applicable laws and regulations (including the...

    +1 202 756 8088
    Anisa Mohanty, McDermott Law Firm, Health Care Attorney

    Anisa Mohanty advises life sciences companies on regulatory, compliance, enforcement, policy, and legislative matters arising under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). She counsels pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer product companies on premarket pathways, advertising and promotion, and current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and Quality System requirements. Anisa also assists clients with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) engagement strategies and responding to FDA administrative and enforcement actions.