It's time to update your procedures!
Coming into force very, very soon.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) has finally done it. Earlier this week they published the good clinical practices for medical device clinical investigations: ISO 14155 "Clinical investigations of medical devices in human subjects—good clinical practices" (2011). You can buy your very own copy at www.iso.org for 158 Swiss francs, search for 14155.
Once the standard is harmonized via publication in the Official Journal of the European Union it comes into force immediately; it will be tough, so you should start updating your procedures for European studies now. What's the "proof" that enforcement is immediate? And what will it mean for your study? Read on.
No phase-in period—the tedious proof
You can take my word for it, or you can follow the tedious proof presented in the next paragraphs to convince yourself about the enforcement date. We will look only at the Medical Device Directive (MDD); you can follow the same logic for the Active Implantable Medical Device (AIMD) directive on your own.
Annex ZA of the standard
Annes ZA of the standard states: "Once this standard is cited in the Official Journal of the European Communities under that Directive and has been implemented as a national standard in at least one Member State, compliance with the normative clauses of this standard confers, within the limits of the scope of this standard, a presumption of conformity with the relevant Essential Requirements 6a of that Directive and associated EFTA regulations."
Which means—in American English—once the standard is cited in the Official Journal, you will meet the Essential Requirements of the MDD for clinical investigations if you conform to the standard.
Essential Requirements of the MDD
Turning our attention to the MDD, in Article 3 we read:
The devices must meet the essential requirements set out in Annex I which apply to them, taking account of the intended purpose of the devices concerned.”
And in Article 4 of the MDD paragraph 2, we read:
2. Member States shall not create any obstacle to:
— devices intended for clinical investigation being made available to medical practitioners or authorized persons for that purpose if they meet the conditions laid down in Article 15 and in Annex VIII,”
And in Article 5 of the MDD, paragraph 1, we read:
Reference to standards
1. Member States shall presume compliance with the essential requirements referred to in Article 3 in respect of devices which are in conformity with the relevant national standards adopted pursuant to the harmonized standards the references of which have been publishes [sic, published] in the Official Journal of the European Communities; Member States shall publish the references of such national standards.”
You can check the MDD at ec.Europa.eu to see if the standard has been harmonized to the directive. Scroll down on the page to see the long list of harmonized standards. As of today, the 2003 versions of the clinical investigation standards are still in force. I'm told it takes 5-6 months before the a new ISO standard is cited in the Official Journal and harmonized to the directive.
Frequently asked questions—my guess at the answers
Your Notified Body is your final arbiter for enforcement of the new ISO standard for ongoing studies. A good rule of thumb is that the standard applies to your investigation from the time it is harmonized and going forward, but does not apply retrospectively to activities that are already completed.
 When the standard comes into force, what happens to clinical investigations that are currently enrolling?
The new rules will apply to the remainder of the investigation. This means investigators and study staff must to be trained to the new standard and their heavier responsibilities, new data forms for collecting device deficiencies should be created, and the like. It may be useful to develop an educational pack for the Ethics Committees.
 When the standard comes into force, what happens to clinical investigations that are completed (last subject is out) and I am analyzing the data?
The final report, i.e. clinical investigation report, should follow the format and content of the standard.
 When the standard comes into force, what happens to clinical investigations I am setting up? Let's say I have investigators and sites, and I have EC approval, but I have not yet enrolled the first subject?
Your clinical investigation procedures and quality management system should be updated now to meet the intense requirements of the new standard. Because you haven't enrolled subjects yet, you can expect to redo most of your administrative set-up if it wasn't done in conformance to the new standard.
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CDG Can Update Your Procedures
CDG was actively involved in writing ISO 14155 (2011). We understand the intention behind the words and can help explain standards-speak in a way you can understand. We can review your procedures, provide recommendations to bring them into conformance, or write additional procedures if needed.
Our style is to work collaboratively with a point-person on your side so that you are involved in the process every step of the way. Phone or email us at 773-489-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy J Stark, PhD
President, Clinical Device Group Inc