FDA News: 2017-2018 Flu Vaccine, Rapid Flu Tests, Warfarin INR Test Meters, Funding for Innovation, Advancing Neurological Treatments, External Stakeholder Meeting Requests – Drug and Device Digest

Week of February 12, 2018

CaptureEfficacy of the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine

2017-2018 Seasonal flu has been widespread with high rates of hospitalization 

  • Caused by one strain of influenza A called H3N2, with another strain of influenza A called H1N1 and strains of influenza B contributing to lesser extents
  • Viruses can change genetic make-up rapidly during course of single year
  • Questions raised about how flu vaccine efficacy; initial report of 36%

Select strains for next season’s flu vaccines

  • Convene Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee
  • Collaboration with WHO, CDC, NIH, other federal partners to address full spectrum of measures for optimal protection
  • Select most appropriate flu strains, provide seed viruses and quality control reagents to manufacturers, ensure quality of manufacturing process
  • Analyze CMS databases covering millions of individuals for signals
    • Better effectiveness with cell-based vs egg-based vaccine



CLIA-Waived Rapid Flu Test Facts

Available Rapid flu tests have demonstrated acceptable clinical performance

  • Antigen-based rapid flu tests (rapid influenza diagnostic tests or RIDTs)
  • Nucleic acid-based rapid molecular flu tests

Performance Levels for antigen-based RIDTs

  • Reclassified  into class II to improve overall quality of flu testing
  • Prompted  by poor sensitivity resulting in misdiagnosed cases, even death.
  • Established special controls for assuring accuracy, reliability and clinical relevance

2017-2018 Flu Season

  • Earlier than usual flu season with high incidence of flu cases
  • Manufacturers’ marketing forecasts may have underestimated needs
  • Some manufacturers have ramped up production



Capture.JPGWarfarin INR test meters 

INR test meter is portable, battery-operated meter, to monitor patient response to warfarin (brand names Coumadin and Jantoven)

  • Medical Device Reporting (MDRs) of adverse events of inaccurate results
  • Need to update information provided to patients, caregivers, and health care providers to safe and effective use

Updates include

  • Correct use: how to take blood from a fingerstick, how to make sure meter working properly
  • Information for health care providers: Medical conditions that could affect test results, recommendations for confirming test results
  • How to report problems with INR test meters



New FDA funding to promote innovation and broaden patient access through competition

  • Foster development of therapeutics and diagnostics for unmet medical needs
  • Advance drug and device competition
  • New domestic industries – pharmacy outsourcing facilities
  • Create modern, domestically-based manufacturing

I. Promote Domestic Manufacturing

  • Development of efficient regulatory pathways for personalized medicines and novel technologies – such as cell- and gene-based therapies, vaccines
  • Continuous manufacturing platforms to ramp up on short notice
  • Return product manufacturing to domestic sites, foster job creation

II. Robust and Reliable Source of Compounded Products

  • Create “Center of Excellence on Compounding for Outsourcing Facilities”
  • Wider availability of reliable compounded drugs meeting GMP

III. Advance Medical Device Manufacturing and Quality

  • Voluntary program for certification of manufacturers
  • Facilitate manufacturing innovation, investment in new production methods/ materials, lead to better medical products
  • Work collaboratively with industry, patients, providers and payers to develop parameters

IV. New Medical Data Enterprise

  • Advance use of Real-World Evidence to better inform patient care, provide more efficient, robust lower-cost ways to develop clinical data
  • Expanded use of natural language processing to speed recognition and remediation of emerging safety concerns
  • Cover data gaps in the Sentinel and NEST systems

V. Digital Health Technology Industry and Framework for Reliable Post-Market Oversight

  • New paradigm to market lower-risk products without FDA premarket review and market higher-risk products with streamlined FDA review
  • Validate quality of a firm’s software design and firm’s methods for certifying the quality and reliability of its underlying software performance
  • Create Center of Excellence on Digital Health to recognize third-party certifiers,  support cybersecurity unit

VI. Modern Science-Based Principles for New Drug Development 

  • Build knowledge management system and portal
  • Build on evolving information, decisions, gaps in policies and pathways, consistent responses to regulatory questions, prevent delays in response to innovations

VII. Medical Products Targeted to Rare Diseases

  • Develop clinical trial networks to understand natural history and clinical outcomes
  • Initial focus would be on rare and ultra-rare diseases to address challenges in clinical trial recruitment

VIII. Modernize Generic Drug Development 

  • Create new review platform for data-based assessment
  • Improve clarity for generic sponsors, reviews more efficient, increasing first-cycle approvals



Advancing development of novel treatments for neurological conditions

Symptoms and progression of neurological diseases vary significantly across patients, within patients, across organ systems

  • Urgent need for new medical treatments
  • Need to modernize multiple aspects of regulatory programs

CDER team-based modern approach

  • Integrate expert knowledge across different fields,  different stages of product life cycle toward a common public health goal
  • Piloting streamlined process for writing science-based, disease-based guidance documents

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Related Dystrophinopathies

  • Support from Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy with scientific and patient input from DMD community

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

  • Support from ALS Association guidance funded by “ice bucket challenge”

Early Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Innovative approaches to studying very early disease before onset of dementia, use of sensitive cognitive screening, imaging tests, or biomarkers


  • Innovative approaches to clinical trial design for acute migraine

Partial Onset Seizures

  • Rigorous approach based on extrapolation of effectiveness adult patients to pediatric patients

External Stakeholder Meeting Request (ESMR) system

Meetings between stakeholders and CDER promote effective two-way communication to improve drug development and safety

  • To help external, non-industry stakeholders more easily request meetings with CDER
  • Mechanism for communicating, sharing ideas to improve efficiency and advance medical product development
  • ESMR system to improve value and efficiency of stakeholder meetings
  • Professional Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement (PASE) Staff facilitate meeting

 Image credit: FDA

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