Analysis of Medical Device Alerts Issued by the Portuguese Medicines Agency: Scoping the Purpose of New Regulatory Recommendations

Carla Pires, Dinah Duarte, Afonso Cavaco

Abstract


Introduction: Medical devices are healthcare technologies with a significantly growing market worldwide. This study aims to analyze medical device alerts issued by the Portuguese Medicines Agency, INFARMED, I.P. during 2017, as well as to identify the respective regulatory actions and to suggest additional recommendations.
Material and Methods: All alerts on medical device alerts publicly available in the website of INFARMED, I.P. were identified and analyzed, including actions taken. Additionally, reports on medical devices from the Portuguese national competent authorities were compared with reports from other European Union member states such as Germany.
Results: A total of 32 safety alerts were identified: 18 (56%) related with devices without identified records of commercialization in Portugal, six (19%) related with devices voluntarily withdrawn from the market, such as counterfeit products, and eight (25%) categorized as ‘other’. In both Portugal and Germany, 0.28 and 4.53 reports of national competent authorities per million inhabitants were identified, respectively. Diverse regulatory actions were taken, such as six compulsory indications to not acquire or use devices.
Discussion: Considering that the European Union is an open market where citizens should have equal access to medical devices, the Portuguese system of medical device safety alerts seems to be functioning normally. The identified safety alerts seemed relevant, with Portugal registering a proportionally slightly lower number of alerts when compared with higher sales volume markets, which may be explained by an underreporting of this type of problems. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results, although the development of databases comprising data on patients using medical devices is recommended in order to generate automatic email and text message alerts.
Conclusion: A limited number of safety alerts on medical devices was identified in Portugal, with few reported cases of counterfeit or falsified devices. The Portuguese Medicines Agency contributes to the citizens’ access to quality medical devices, by issuing safety alerts, recommendations and mandatory market withdrawals for unsuitable or unsafe medical devices.


Keywords


Equipment and Supplies; Patient Safety/legislation & jurisprudence

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