FDA Enforcement: The Four Elements of Proof


The four elements of Proof FDA

FDA Enforcement:
The Four Elements
of Proof

What is FDA required to document to initiate an enforcement action? What proof is necessary to establish clear and significant violations of the regulations? What elements of noncompliance do FDA field investigators need to establish that a Warning Letter, seizure, injunction, consent degree, or prosecution is required? FDA has basic requirements that should be documented during an inspection: they are called the Four Elements of Proof. When reviewing a Form FDA 483, Inspectional Observations, it should be compared against these basic required elements for consistency, relevancy and significance. Let’s look at the Four Elements of Proof, sometimes referred to with the acronym JIVR.

FDA four elements of proof

Does FDA Have Jurisdiction?

JURISDICTION: For FDA to take an enforcement action, it needs jurisdiction. We know that FDA regulates drugs, medical devices, and biologics/vaccines. However, It isn’t always simple. There is a strict definition of “drug” in the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. That is the reason FDA lost at the Supreme Court with the first attempt at asserting jurisdiction over tobacco in the 1990s. It was “a question of intent,” which is also the title of former Commissioner Dr. David Kessler’s fascinating book on his time at FDA. Laws and regulations usually have a section for “definitions.” Take some time to read them. It will help you understand the way FDA interprets inspections and when to seek enforcement actions.

FDA enforcement four elements of proof

An Early FDA Inspection: Railroad Watering Points

INTERSTATE COMMERCE: One of the principal functions of the United States government is to regulate interstate commerce. Railroads were the principal means of interstate transportation when FDA was founded and an important area of FDA concern. And just try to document medical oxygen in interstate commerce. I once had a promotion delayed for three months because as a Bioresearch Monitoring investigator, I was dealing with the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries where interstate commerce is basically assumed. So I had to go out to a couple of medical gas repackers and collect DOC Samples (a DOC sample consists of paperwork, not a product) to establish that I could document interstate commerce. (See Warning Letter Below for Interstate Conveyance Sanitation.)

four elements of proof

What is the Violation?

VIOLATION: There should be a “clear and significant” violation of the regulations to put something on a 483 or Warning letter. If the laboratory normal range for the inclusion/exclusion criteria for blood glucose is 80-120 Mg/DL and the result is 121 that is a clear violation. Is it significant? I think not. Determining significance is not an easy task. It is something that may need discussion during an FDA inspection. Patient, professional discussion of the issue is usually the best approach. Your FDA field investigator may not have experience in the specific therapeutic area or technical issues of the inspection. It isn’t always easy conducting an FDA inspection and establishing the four elements of proof and the significance of the violation. And remember, You cannot determine the root cause of a problem if you don’t know what the violation is. What is the Violation? Find it in the regulations.

FDA four elements of proof

Regulations Assign Responsibility

RESPONSIBILITY: Regulations assign responsibility. In clinical trials they are assigned to sponsors, investigators, and IRBs. In GMPs and postmarket activities responsibilities are assigned to the “applicant” and the manufacturer of a regulated product. In the GLP regulations, responsibility is assigned to the testing facility. Responsibility is a Big Deal to an FDA investigator. It is just as important to ask, “Whose regulatory responsibility is it?” as it is to ask, “What is the Violation?” Without regulatory responsibility you cannot determine who should recommend the actions necessary to correct a regulatory error.

There you have it. The four elements of proof. The basic requirements for FDA enforcement.

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Interstate Conveyance Sanitation Warning Letter
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News from FDA: There is a new Proposed Rule (proposed change in regulations) from FDA on the Disqualification of Investigators. This proposed rule modernizes and harmonizes current regulations. The Final Rule will probably look quite similar.
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On the Blogroll: GxP Perspectives made the list for Top 40 Websites (and tweets) on the FDA. This comes from FDAZilla. I think it is a pretty good list.

Also: David Spero has an excellent post called The Art of Motivation on his blog. This isn’t about regulations, its about people.

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