FDA Decides to Delay UDI Labeling Rule for Some Orthopedic Implants

Regulatory NewsRegulatory News | 20 November 2014 |  By 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is granting labelers of certain types of implantable medical devices a temporary reprieve from its upcoming requirements that all medical device products be marked with a unique device identifier (UDI) meant to make the devices safer.


A UDI is, as its name implies, a system of identifying each medical device using a specific system.

The system has a number of allures for regulators. "The unique device identification system will help reduce medical errors, and will allow FDA, the healthcare community, and industry to more rapidly review and assess adverse event reports, identify problems relating to a particular device, and thereby allow for more rapid and effective corrective actions that focus sharply on the specific devices that are of concern," FDA wrote in 2012.

At its core, the rule calls for devices to be marked with a UDI system composed of two parts: a device identifier that corresponds with the type of device and its manufacturer, and a production identifier that states its lot, batch, serial number, expiration date, date of manufacture and other relevant information.

The rule was originally mandated by the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) of 2007, but was subject to lengthy delays, both due to extensive rewrites resulting from industry criticism and months of review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Marking Requirements

FDA's UDI rule, released in September 2013, calls for different classes and types of devices to be subject to UDI marking requirements at different times.

For example, some Class III (high-risk) medical devices had to adhere to the UDI rule's direct marking requirements within 90 days, or by the end of 2013. All other Class III devices had until September 2014 to comply.

Low-risk (Class I) and moderate-risk (Class II) devices were, on the other hand, generally given much more time to comply with the act's requirements. Class II devices have until September 2016 to comply, while Class I devices have until September 2018 to do the same. (See "Effective Dates" in the UDI Rule.)

Some Delays

With the UDI rule affecting nearly every medical device regulated by FDA, the agency has had to delay its implementation on at least a few products.

Under 21 CFR 801.55(d), FDA is allowed to "initiate and grant an exception or alternative if we determine that the exception or alternative is in the best interest of the public health."

To date, FDA has granted at least one narrow labeling exception for manufacturers of Class III contact lens and intraocular lens labelers. Those companies have until September 2015 to label their products in accordance with the UDI rule's direct marking requirements.

A New Delay

Now FDA has quietly announced yet another labeling exemption, this time for a much larger group of products.

In a 19 November 2014 letter posted on its website, FDA said some implant labelers will have until 24 September 2016 to comply with the marking requirements of the UDI rule.

The exemption is intended to allow labelers of single-use implants intended to be sterilized before use to comply with the rule, FDA said.

As FDA explains in its letter, the original intent of the UDI rule was to require direct marking of identifiers on the device. That requirement was later scrapped, in part because of the potential for those markings to affect the safety and efficacy of a device. Instead, FDA allowed some products to have UDI markings on the product's packaging under the theory that the packaging would accompany the device up until the point of implantation.

However, for single-use devices intended to be sterilized prior to use, this isn't necessarily the case, as the sterilization process takes place separately and apart from the implantation process, generally leading to the packaging being discarded.

After the trade group AdvaMed complained to FDA that industry needed more time to implement solutions meant to adequately identify devices separated from their original label and packaging, FDA said it decided to delay the implementation of the rule's marking effects for certain devices.

Affected device types include the following:

Device Type
Implant, endosseous, root-form, abutment
Implant, endosseous, orthodontic
Lock, wire, and ligature, intraoral
External mandibular fixator and/or distractor
Plate, bone
Prosthesis, condyle, mandibular, temporary
Screw, fixation, intraosseous
Mesh, surgical, metal
Clip, aneurysm
Cover, burr hole
Plate, cranioplasty, preformed, alterable
Plate, cranioplasty, preformed, non-alterable
Fastener, plate, cranioplasty
Shunt, central nervous system and components
Bone fixation cerclage, sublaminar
Cerclage, fixation
Rod, fixation, intramedullary and accessories
Appliance, fixation, nail/blade/plate combination, multiple component
Appliance, fixation, nail/blade/plate combination, multiple component, metal composite
Appliance, fixation, nail/blade/plate combination, single component
Condylar plate fixation implant
Device, fixation, proximal femoral, implant
Nail, fixation, bone
Plate, Fixation, Bone
Staple, fixation, bone
Washer, bolt nut
Component, traction, invasive
Fastener, fixation, nondegradable, soft tissue MBI
Pin, fixation, smooth
Pin, fixation, threaded
Sacroiliac joint fixation
Screw, Fixation, Bone
Accessories, Fixation, Spinal Interlamina
Appliance, fixation, spinal interlaminal
Orthosis, spine, plate, laminoplasty, metal
Spinous process plate
Anterior staple as supplemental fixation for fusion
Appliance, Fixation, Spinal Intervertebral Body
Implant, fixation device, spinal
Spinal vertebral body replacement device
Orthosis, spinal pedicle fixation
Orthosis, spinal pedicle fixation, for degenerative disc disease
Orthosis, spondylolisthesis spinal fixation
Pedicle screw spinal system, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
Posterior metal/polymer spinal system, fusion
Intervertebral fusion device with bone graft, cervical
Intervertebral fusion device with bone graft, lumbar
Intervertebral fusion device with bone graft, thoracic
Intervertebral fusion device with integrated fixation, cervical
Intervertebral fusion device with integrated fixation, lumbar
Wire, surgical
System, facet screw spinal device
Growing rod system
Growing rod system, magnetic actuation


FDA Letter


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