November 2, 2020

Nuances of Using the Safety and Performance Pathway for Submitting a 510(k) for Certain Device Types

Author: Suzanne Broussard, PhD  | November 2, 2020  

The FDA is moving forward with its commitment to strengthen and modernize the 510(k) program. The Safety and Performance Based Pathway is designed to provide a direct and transparent approach to demonstrating safety and effectiveness of low to moderate risk devices that can meet FDA-identified performance criteria to demonstrate substantial equivalence.  

The first device specific guidance documents for Conventional Foley Catheters and Cutaneous Electrodes for Recording Purposes were released in August 2020. More recently, FDA hosted a webinar providing some key points to consider when submitting a 510(k) to the Safety and Performance Based Pathway.   

Background information on the Safety and Performance Based Pathway and guidance documents can be found here

Below is a summary of the nuances that FDA wants your organization to consider if you are in the process of submitting a 510(k) or are considering submitting a 510(k) for well-understood Class II devices through the new Safety and Performance Pathway for Certain Device Types.  

First, manufacturers must determine if the device is appropriate for the pathway. The scope of each device-specific performance criteria guidance identifies device types that are appropriate. The guidance indicates which performance device-specific criteria need to be meet, and all criteria outlined must be met.  

Secondly, it is still necessary to identify an appropriate predicate for your submission, even though it is not necessary to conduct side by side performance testing of the subject test to the predicate device.  

Third, new submissions through the Safety and Performance pathway are evaluated through the same 510(k) substantial equivalence decision flowchart as before. What is unique about this pathway is that to demonstrate performance the subject device must meet all of the FDA identified criteria listed in the device specific guidance. FDA believes this is important as criteria to appropriately determine substantial equivalence “when the indications for use and technological characteristics do not raise different questions of safety and effectiveness from that of the predicate device. And, that the criteria align with one or more predicates of the same device type.” 

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