March 2, 2023
Regulatory is Part of the Design and Design Team: Part 2
Here are a few more practical examples generally demonstrating that Regulatory can’t be separated from the design team.
For example, if a Regulatory staffer compiled the GSPR matrix or an FDA 510(k), then that unfortunately means that staffer wrote regulatory design outputs. For example, ISO TC/210 includes as design outputs, “documentation for submission to the regulatory authorities“. This is because ISO 13485 (and FDA) have very deliberate and distinct requirements for regulatory inputs, outputs, etc., as distinguished from the subject device’s functional and performance requirements. Be sure not to equate the regulatory inputs/outputs with the device’s functional/performance requirements that might be embedded or referenced within the regulatory outputs. Again, for these reasons, I don’t expect that a notified body, an ISO registrar, or FDA would buy the assertion that the team’s regulatory contributor isn’t part of the design team, nor do I expect these authorities to accept attempts to have said regulatory contributor be the independent reviewer or “other specialist personnel” regarding those regulatory inputs/outputs, verification, etc. Consequently, if one fought the regulatory authority in such instances, then I expect that you could not only lose that battle, but also in the process damage the organization’s relationship with the regulatory authority, and thus the organization’s premarket authorization efforts. There are certainly proper times to push back on a regulatory authority; but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.
I also think it’s a losing battle to argue that a primary author/contributor of a critical part(s) of the device specification and/or IFU, such as adding (i.e., writing) an indication for use consistent with the predicate, isn’t a design team member.
Similarly, if a person signed off on and/or “completed” process, packaging, and sterilization validations, then again, then I expect it will be a losing battle to argue that such person isn’t a design team member.
Likewise, if a team member reviews the design verification/validation protocols and reports for regulatory compliance (meaning that such member is participating in design verification/validation), then I view it as a stretch (or worse) to assert that such person isn’t part of the design team.
It’s also important to be mindful that ISO TC/210 and FDA expect the design team and its members’ roles to be very clearly defined (i.e., in the design plan). FDA says that, “The importance of defining responsibilities with clarity and without ambiguity should be recognized.” ISO TC/210 says, “It needs to be clear who has responsibility and authority for design and development. Generally, as different groups or functions within your organization are involved in design and development, clear and effective communication with distinct assignment of responsibilities across your organization is important….The design and development plan should identify the review, verification and validation methods to be used, including who is to carry them out…” [emphasis added]. This alludes to the pitfalls of arguing against a regulatory authority’s inclusion of the cited personnel contributions as being part of the design team.