Contact Lens Mfrs. Ass'n v. Food & Drug Admin. Dept. of Health and Human Services, No. 84-1025

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBeverly Sherman Nash, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Richard K. Willard, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen.; Before ROBINSON, Chief Judge, WALD and GINSBURG; GINSBURG
Citation766 F.2d 592
PartiesCONTACT LENS MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, Petitioner, v. FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION of the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 84-1025
Decision Date09 July 1985

Page 592

766 F.2d 592
247 U.S.App.D.C. 102
CONTACT LENS MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, Petitioner,
v.
FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION of the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES, Respondent.
No. 84-1025.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Feb. 26, 1985.
Decided July 9, 1985.

Page 593

Petition for Review of an Order of the Food & Drug administration.

Daniel J. Manelli, Washington D.C., with whom Edward A. Scallet, Washington, D.C., was on brief, for petitioner.

Beverly Sherman Nash, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Richard K. Willard, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., J. Patrick Glynn, Margaret A. Cotter, Mark H. Gallant, Attys., Dept. of Justice and Michael M. Landa, Atty., Food and Drug Admin., Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Before ROBINSON, Chief Judge, WALD and GINSBURG, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge GINSBURG.

GINSBURG, Circuit Judge.

In 1938, Congress armed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with authority to prevent the marketing of hazardous drugs. By the mid-1970's, however, it had become apparent that the legislature's delineation of the FDA's domain was too narrow to enable the agency to protect the public from some of the most dangerous health care products. Mindful of recent misfortunes involving faulty pacemakers and the Dalkon Shield, Congress enacted the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (Amendments or statute), Pub.L. No. 94-295, 90 Stat. 539 (codified at 21 U.S.C. Secs. 360c-360k (1982)), thereby extending the FDA's pre-market surveillance field beyond drugs to medical devices. This case, one of first impression, involves the FDA's administration of the Amendments.

Page 594

Congress' new prescription for the FDA divided the world of medical devices into three classes, according to the degree of regulation thought necessary to provide reasonable assurance of each device's "safety and effectiveness." Class I encompassed devices whose safety and effectiveness could be reasonably assured by "general controls" set out in various sections of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. Secs. 301-392 (1982). Class II covered devices that posed somewhat greater risks; devices placed in this category would be subject to "performance standards" in addition to the residual general controls. Class III was to obtain devices (1) whose safety and effectiveness could not be reasonably assured by any combination of general controls and performance standards, and (2) whose purported purpose was to aid in supporting or sustaining human life or preventing its impairment, or whose availability presented "a potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury." No device consigned to class III could be sold to the general public until, through a costly and time-consuming process, it had gained the FDA's "premarket approval." See Id. Sec. 360c(a)(1).

Congress itself was not positioned to determine the appropriate classification of every medical device then in existence or yet to be invented; nor could it describe the statutory categories with sufficient precision to ensure that each device would simply fall into the proper class of its own accord. The legislators therefore charged the FDA with the task of implementing the Amendments, and thus of essaying judgments appropriate to ensure safe and effective medical devices without stifling innovative technology. See H.R.REP. NO. 853, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 12-13 (1976) [hereinafter cited as HOUSE REPORT].

Congress drew several initial bright lines, however, that significantly affected the classification process. "[D]evices of a type introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce for commercial distribution" before the date of the Amendments' enactment were to remain entirely outside the classification scheme until the FDA decided where to place them. See 21 U.S.C. Sec. 360c(c)(3); General Provisions and Classification of 119 Devices, 47 Fed.Reg. 3694, 3694 (1982) [hereinafter cited as Mass Classification Proposal]. Devices introduced after the date of enactment, by contrast, would rank in class III unless shown to belong to a non-class-III family of devices and to be "substantially equivalent" to a particular, already-marketed device within that family. See 21 U.S.C. Sec. 360c(f)(1)(A); 21 C.F.R. Sec. 860.134 (1984). Moreover, under provisions labeled "transitional," class III ranking automatically attached to "[a]ny device intended for human use ... which the [FDA] in a notice published in the Federal Register before the enactment date has declared to be a new drug." 21 U.S.C. Sec. 360j(l )(1)(E). The FDA could later reclassify any device that, for whatever reason, had been "overclassified," but this remedy required a proffer of "new information," id. Sec. 360c(e)--or, as the FDA formulated the standard, "valid scientific evidence" of safety and effectiveness. 21 C.F.R. Secs. 860.7, .123(a)(6).

The instant petition concerns the first attempt ever to reclassify a medical device committed to class III by the Amendments' "transitional provisions." Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) challenges the FDA's withdrawal of the agency's own proposal to transfer certain rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses from class III to class I. 48 Fed.Reg. 56,778 (1983). Claiming that RGP lenses (and hence, RGP lens manufacturers) have suffered disparate treatment in relation to other medical devices (indeed, other contact lenses), CLMA urges that "something has gone very wrong here." Brief of Petitioner at 2. We conclude, however, that CLMA's travails are attributable to the intricacies of the legislation Congress ordered, and to the broad administrative discretion Congress conferred upon the FDA. Because our review satisfies us that the FDA has permissibly exercised its considerable discretion in this case, we affirm the agency's action.

Page 595

I.

Contact lenses consisting almost entirely of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)--"hard" lenses--have been marketed in the United States since the early 1950's. See Regulatory Policy and Proposed Rulemaking for Marketing Contact Lenses, 40 Fed.Reg. 44,844, 44,845 (1975) [hereinafter cited as New Drug Notice]. Because the public's pre-Amendments experience with PMMA lenses was broad and substantially injury-free, see id., these lenses will remain outside the Amendments' classification scheme until the FDA formally decides where to place them. See supra p. 594. That decision has not yet been made; three years ago, however, the FDA proposed to regulate PMMA lenses as class II devices. See Mass Classification Proposal, 47 Fed.Reg. at 3736.

Hydroxyethylmethacrylate (HEMA) lenses--"soft" lenses--are a more recent development. The FDA first approved a HEMA lens in 1971. See 47 Fed.Reg. 53,411, 43,415 (1982). In September 1975, citing their relative novelty, the FDA announced that HEMA lenses--indeed all lenses "other than those consisting [almost wholly] of PMMA"--had been and would continue to be regarded as "new drugs":

This decision to regulate such contact lenses under the new drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was based on a recognition that new plastic materials that had not been shown to be safe and effective were being introduced for use in the manufacture of contact lenses. The introduction of these new materials led to new lens design and use, new manufacturing methods, and new methods for lens care. The Food and Drug Administration is concerned that the use of these contact lenses may result in serious eye damage if the new material of which they are composed is unsafe for use in the eye, if the user cannot feasibly care for the lenses, or if the highly complex procedures for the manufacture of these lenses are not carefully controlled to assure a product of uniform quality.

New Drug Notice, 40 Fed.Reg. at 44,845. This announcement rendered HEMA lenses class III devices under the Amendments' "transitional provisions." See supra p. 594; cf. infra note 3 (rejection of reclassification proposal).

The product at issue in this case is said to combine attractive features of both lens types described above. "RGP lenses" (like "PMMA lenses" or "HEMA lenses") is a generic term that indicates no single mix of polymers or manufacturing process; but all lenses properly called RGP share certain salient characteristics. The ideal RGP lens permits both the superior visual acuity attainable with a hard lens and the "direct transmission of oxygen to corneal tissue" that the hard lens regrettably prevents. See 47 Fed.Reg. 53,402, 53,406 (1982) [hereinafter cited as Reclassification Proposal]. Nearly a million people in the United States wore RGP lenses in 1982. Id. 1 As of 1975, however, RGP lenses, like soft lenses, were comparatively new and untested; since enactment of the Amendments the FDA has regarded RGP lenses as "transitional" class III devices by reason of the same September 1975 Federal Register announcement that resulted in placement of HEMA lenses in the class III category. See supra p. 595; infra p. 598.

Consequently, before a manufacturer can market a particular RGP lens to the public, the manufacturer must demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of that lens convincingly enough to gain the FDA's premarket approval. "[I]n effect," the manufacturer must obtain "a license to market the device." Brief for Respondent at 5 n. 6. (If RGP lenses were class I devices, the manufacturer would be required to make the showing CLMA regards as less burdensome that the lens was "substantially equivalent" to another RGP lens already on the market. See 21 U.S.C. Sec. 360c(f)(1)(A)

Page 596

(1982); supra p. 594. But see infra pp. 601-602.) The expense of obtaining a class III device license--"estimated at $750,000-$1,000,000 (over and above development costs)," Brief of Petitioner at 11, the bulk of which goes to clinical investigation--constitutes a significant barrier to entry. Not surprisingly, the first and largest of several...

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75 practice notes
  • Doe v. Rumsfeld, No. CIV.A.03-707(EGS).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • October 27, 2004
    ...FDA, a commercial association sued FDA over its decision to classify contact lenses according to the product's safety and effectiveness. 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985). In describing the safety and effectiveness of the lenses, FDA utilized a three class categorization system. Contact lens......
  • Int'l Acad. of Oral Med. & Toxicology v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin., Civil Action No. 14-356 (JEB)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 1, 2016
    ...’ " Ivy Sports Med., LLC v. Burwell, 767 F.3d 81, 83 (D.C.Cir.2014) (quoting Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. FDA, 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985), itself quoting 21 U.S.C. § 360c ). Pursuant to the MDA, the FDA has classified a variety of tools and materials used in dentistry as ......
  • Ivy Sports Med., LLC v. Burwell, No. 13–5139.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • September 26, 2014
    ...necessary to provide reasonable assurance of each device's ‘safety and effectiveness.’ ” Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. FDA, 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985).The classification of a device matters because the three classes trigger different approval processes. In order to enter t......
  • U.S. v. Endotec, Inc., No. 08-13693.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 30, 2009
    ...use poses any risk"). In support, the district court relied upon Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. Food & Drug Administration, 766 F.2d 592 (D.C.Cir.1985), in which the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association ("CLMA") filed suit to challenge the FDA's withdrawal of its own proposal t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Doe v. Rumsfeld, No. CIV.A.03-707(EGS).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • October 27, 2004
    ...FDA, a commercial association sued FDA over its decision to classify contact lenses according to the product's safety and effectiveness. 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985). In describing the safety and effectiveness of the lenses, FDA utilized a three class categorization system. Contact lens......
  • Int'l Acad. of Oral Med. & Toxicology v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin., Civil Action No. 14-356 (JEB)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 1, 2016
    ...’ " Ivy Sports Med., LLC v. Burwell, 767 F.3d 81, 83 (D.C.Cir.2014) (quoting Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. FDA, 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985), itself quoting 21 U.S.C. § 360c ). Pursuant to the MDA, the FDA has classified a variety of tools and materials used in dentistry as ......
  • Ivy Sports Med., LLC v. Burwell, No. 13–5139.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • September 26, 2014
    ...necessary to provide reasonable assurance of each device's ‘safety and effectiveness.’ ” Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. FDA, 766 F.2d 592, 594 (D.C.Cir.1985).The classification of a device matters because the three classes trigger different approval processes. In order to enter t......
  • U.S. v. Endotec, Inc., No. 08-13693.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 30, 2009
    ...use poses any risk"). In support, the district court relied upon Contact Lens Manufacturers Association v. Food & Drug Administration, 766 F.2d 592 (D.C.Cir.1985), in which the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association ("CLMA") filed suit to challenge the FDA's withdrawal of its own proposal t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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