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Design Control for medical devices is of utmost importance to the medical device industry. In order to get a grasp of its importance, one needs to get an understanding of what Design Control is. In simple terms, Design Control for medical devices is a set of logical and linear steps that medical device manufacturers have to take to ensure that:

  1. The medical device being manufactured is safe
  2. The medical device manufacturer follows all the steps and procedures for ensuring that the device it develops is what was meant to be developed
  3. Design controls for medical devices have to be put in place to ensure that the final product – the medical device – meets all the required and prescribed regulatory procedures and guidelines and meets the customer’s expectation

In short and simple terms, design controls for medical devices are verifiable and provable assurances that medical device manufacturers have taken adequate steps to guarantee that a medical device meets its set of required standards and procedures to ensure its safety and meet customer requirements.

FDA and ISO expectations of design controls for medical devicesBoth the FDA and the ISO have regulatory requirements from medical devices that expect some Design Control standards. The FDA’s requirements for design controls for medical devices are spelt out in FDA 21 CFR 820.30, while ISO 13485 is the standard for design controls for medical devices. Although formed by different regulatory or standards bodies; both the FDA 21 CFR 820.30 and the ISO 13485 are essentially similar. Their purview of the areas of design controls for medical devices is almost identically similar to each other. Sections of the FDA 21 CFR 820.30 and the ISO 13485 speak of requirements relating to the following in their various sections:

In just one area of design controls for medical devices, namely Design History File, there is a small difference, in that while the FDA’s regulatory requirements for design controls for medical devices include DHF; in the case of the ISO 13485, this is treated separately.

There is thus near total convergence between the FDA 21 CFR 820.30 and the ISO 13485 when it comes to design controls for medical devices.

Basic requirements of FDA 21 CFR 820.30 and ISO 13485Both the FDA 21 CFR 820.30 and the ISO 13485 have expectations for design controls for medical devices. These are the core areas:

designControlForMedicalDevices

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