The FDA last Monday issued a proposed rule to classify “tissue expanders” as Class II (special controls) medical devices. These devices are “intended for temporary (less than 6 months) subdermal implantation to stretch the skin for surgical applications.”
What makes this notice interesting is preemption. In Riegel v. Medtronic, 128 S.Ct. 999 (2008), the Supreme Court upheld preemption in part because it concluded that the premarket approval (or PMA) process for Class III medical devices results in “federal requirements” specific to the approved device. In the tissue expander proposed rule, the FDA explains its view that these special controls also amount to federal requirements that should result in preemption. It states:
“In this proposed rulemaking, FDA has tentatively determined that general controls by themselves are insufficient to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device, and that there is sufficient information to establish special controls to provide such assurance. FDA therefore proposes to establish special controls to address the issues of safety or effectiveness identified in the special controls draft guidance document. If this proposed rule is made final, these special controls would create ‘requirements’ for specific medical devices under 21 U.S.C. 360k, even though product sponsors would have some flexibility in how they meet those requirements (Papike v. Tambrands, Inc., 107 F.3d 737, 740-42 (9th Cir. 1997)). In addition, if this rule becomes final, as with any Federal requirement, if a State law requirement makes compliance with both Federal law and State law impossible, or would frustrate Federal objectives, the State requirement would be preempted. (See Geier v. American Honda Co., 529 U.S. 861 (2000); English v. General Electric Co., 496 U.S. 72, 79 (1990); Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc., 373 U.S. 132, 142-43 (1963); Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941).)”
Although this is the first reference we have seen to Riegel in a proposed rule to establish Class II special rules, the FDA is actually not breaking new ground. In 1997, the Papike upheld preemption in a case involving tampons (a Class II device) and an alleged failure to adequately warn of toxic shock syndrome since the FDA had issued regulations specifying the toxic shock syndrome required for tampon packaging. Other tampon cases have followed Papike, and there have been a few latex glove cases, too. See, e.g., Whitson v. Safeskin Corp., 313 F.Supp.2d 473, 479 (M.D. Pa. 2004); Busch v. Ansell Perry, Inc., 2005 WL 877805 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 8, 2005).
UPDATE: Mark Hermann and Jim Beck at druganddevicelaw.com have posted some interesting commentary on this proposed rule, noting – among other things – that even without reference to preemption, “both a 1998 regulation applicable to latex gloves, and a 1997 regulation applicable to contact lens care products, have likewise been accorded preemptive effect due to their specificity. See Morgan v. Abco Dealers, Inc., 2007 WL 4358392 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 11, 2007) (latex gloves); Tuttle v. Ciba Vision Corp., 2007 WL 677134 (D. Utah Mar. 1, 2007) (contact lens care products).”
Their Top 10 lists of the good and bad drug and device cases from 2008 also are not to be missed.