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  4. Investigational Device Exemptions (IDEs) for CBER-Regulated Products
  1. Development & Approval Process (CBER)

Investigational Device Exemptions (IDEs) for CBER-Regulated Products

What are IDEs?

An investigational device exemption (IDE) allows the investigational device to be used in a clinical study in order to collect safety and effectiveness data. Clinical studies are most often conducted to support a Premarket Approval (PMA). Only a small percentage of Premarket Notifications (510(k)s) require clinical data to support the application.

Investigational use also includes clinical evaluation of certain modifications or new intended uses of legally marketed devices. All clinical evaluations of investigational devices, unless exempt, must have an approved IDE before the study is initiated.

Clinical evaluation of devices that have not been cleared for marketing require:

  • Investigational plan approved by an institutional review board (IRB). If the study involves a significant risk device, the IDE must also be approved by FDA;
  • Informed consent from all patients;
  • Labeling stating that the device is for investigational use only;
  • Monitoring of the study; and
  • Required records and reports.

An approved IDE permits a device to be shipped lawfully for the purpose of conducting investigations of the device without complying with other requirements of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) that would apply to devices in commercial distribution. Sponsors need not submit a PMA or 510(k), register their establishment, or list the device while the device is under investigation. Sponsors of IDE's are also exempt from the Quality System (QS) Regulation except for the requirement for design controls (21 CFR 820.30).

Clinical studies must follow a set of laws and regulations, which are intended to protect the right, safety and welfare of human subjects participating in human trials, ensure the quality, validity, and integrity of the clinical trial data, and promote the availability of new medical products to the public. These laws and regulations apply to the medical device, manufacturers, sponsors, clinical investigators and institutional review boards. In addition, FDA has the following Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 (21 CFR) and IDE guidance documents in place to clarify policies and procedures for the IDE process, including:

  • 21 CFR 812, Investigational Device Exemptions, covers the procedures for the conduct of clinical studies with medical devices including application, responsibilities of sponsors and investigators, labeling, records, and reports.
  • 21 CFR 50, Protection of Human Subjects, provides the requirements and general elements of informed consent;
  • 21 CFR 56, Institutional Review Boards, covers the procedures and responsibilities for institutional review boards (IRBs) that approve clinical investigations protocols;
  • 21 CFR 54, Financial Disclosure by Clinical Investigators, covers the disclosure of financial compensation to clinical investigators which is part of FDA’s assessment of the reliability of the clinical data.
  • 21 CFR 820 Subpart C, Design Controls of the Quality System Regulation, provides the requirement for procedures to control the design of the device in order to ensure that the specified design requirements are met.

Additional Resources

Guidance Documents

Laws and Regulations


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