Congress Questions FDA and CMS on LDT Regulation
Congress Questions FDA and CMS on LDT Regulation
As the FDA works away on final guidance for regulating LDTs, various professional groups unhappy with the course of the FDA have put together and hurried their own proposals up to Captiol Hill. The Diagnostic Testing Working Group (DTWG) has had their proposal drafted into legislation which has already been revised once in the House Energy and Commerce Committeee, while proposals from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the Association of Molecular Pathology (AMP) have been presented to both the Senate and the House. Various other groups, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), have either signed on in support of one of these proposals or are independently lobbying Congress as well.
What chance do these organizations have at persuading Congress to step in and change the course of LDT regulation?
Here to help us parse through these options and get a sense of congressional reception is Scott McGoohan, the new Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs at BIO. Scott says that all of the proposals fit into “three buckets:”
First, there’s the guidance that the FDA is working on which will bring regulatory oversight to thousands of tests which heretofore have not been regulated.
Second, there’s the CAP and AMP proposals which call for the modernization of CLIA which will include increased oversight of laboratory developed tests. These proposals reserve a small set of high risk tests for FDA oversight.
And third, there’s the DTWG who are hoping to get Congress to establish a new center at the FDA for all in vitro diagnostics.
One thing is for sure, says Scott. Whichever proposal wins out, “the general sense is that there will be a change coming with increased regulatory standards for laboratory developed tests.”
Scott joins BIO at a very busy time in Washington for biotech policy. The House has passed the 21st Century Cures Initiative and the Senate Help Committee is doing active work on their health innovation agenda.
“It is an incredible time [in Washington] and an incredible opportunity for transformative regulatory change,” says Scott.
Certainly not all regulatory change is transformative, as Scott reminds at the conclusion of today's show with a story about a crazy bill in Wisconsin.
It's no secret that America's molecular testing laboratories by and large are worried that the FDA's plan to regulate laboratory developed tests, or LDTs, will severely harm patients. Now they have a new proposal which they are taking directly to Capitol Hill.
Roger Klein is the Medical Director of Molecular Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. He’s also serving as the spokesperson for the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) on the controversial topic of regulating LDTs.
Several weeks ago Roger was in Washington arguing before the Senate’s HELP Committee presenting them a newly drafted proposal that he, AMP and other professional groups feel to be a better solution to regulating LDTs. Currently the FDA is on a path to issue their final guidance for LDTs in a way that treats these lab tests as medical devices.
Klein and the professional lab groups are highly concerned that the FDA’s proposed regulation will be too restrictive and will curtail an industry just as it is blooming. Their proposal: to beef up the existing CLIA regulation so that it includes determining a test’s clinical validity. So far, CLIA has been concerned only with the analytical validity of a test.
But wait a minute, haven't we heard these arguments before? Roger explains in today’s interview that his proposal before the Senate is much more complete than what they had in January.
This past month one of the most successful genetic testing companies, Myriad Genetics, has been settling one gene patent case after another. Also, the FDA has been attempting to regulate some very complicated lab testing. So we figured we better talk to a lawyer about the devil in the details. We’ve chosen Antoinette Konski of the law firm, Foley and Lardner.
Antoinette agrees that the Myriad settlements indicate the end of an era with gene patents. So how is she advising her life science clients in securing IP?
Antoinette is also interested in the regulation of diagnostics. What does she have to say of the FDA’s recent move on LDTs, particularly with regard to next-gen sequencing tests?
In our new show format, host Theral Timpson engages three guests in some lively discussion about January's hottest biotech news.
We’re very pleased to have Liz Mansfield of the FDA on the program to finish up our current Special Report on LDTs Series. Liz is part of the team at the FDA working on the new guidance for the regulation of LDTs, and she was at the recent meeting the FDA held to receive community feedback.
Today we get into some of the details of that feedback. Did Liz and the FDA hear any new issues that they had not already considered? What about the BRAF testing that was mentioned in the meeting? Is there a risk that patients will lose access to some important tests?
In a recent interview in this series, Amy Miller of the Personalized Medicine Coalition urged the FDA to push out their timeline for guidance. In this very open and candid interview, Liz responds that there is no set date for final guidance. “We will take the time it requires to go through them [community comments], analyze them, and decide what we need to do in response and finalize the guidance,” she says. "There is no rush to do that."
Podcast sponsored by: This Month in Biotech - Coming January 30th!
Amy Miller is the Executive Vice President for the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) and joins us in our Special Report on LDTs Series. Though the PMC does not have a position on whether the FDA should regulate LDTs, Amy says that the stakes could not be higher.
“We see the future of personalized medicine is at stake. We urge the FDA to get this right the first time so that personalized medicine can continue to improve the quality of care that patients currently have access to,” she says at the outset of today’s interview.
Amy and her organization represent stakeholders from every side of the current debate on LDT regulation. They hear from industry, payers, providers, and labs. Amy is asking the FDA to step back, take time to respond to the recent community feedback conference, and publish supplementals that will provide more clarity to the guidance, such as how risk will be determined. Amy and the PMC would also like to see the FDA “harmonize” their language with that of CLIA, the current system in place for lab regulation.
“I absolutely think the timeline has to be pushed out,” she says. “The community needs another crack at that framework."
Elaine Lyon, Former President, AMP; Medical Director of Molecular Genetics, ARUP Laboratories Bio and Contact Info
Listen (4:37) What is at stake here?
Listen (6:16) Is your message being heard?
Listen (8:03) Current guidance would shut down two thirds of current tests
Listen (2:33) What would be the best outcome with guidance?
Today we begin a Special Report on LDTs Series. LDTs, or Laboratory Developed Tests, have been used in healthcare for years to aid in diagnosis and treatment of illness. In the age of genomics, the number of these tests has boomed and become ever more complex. It was not until last year that the FDA, who had long been suggesting it, put out the first version of a draft guidance, or terms of regulation for LDTs. Implementation is expected to take about ten years.
Last week the FDA held a community feedback workshop at the NIH and heard from dozens of stakeholders from around the country. Today we’re joined by one of the speakers at the workshop, Elaine Lyon, the Medical Director of Molecular Genetics at ARUP Laboratories. Elaine was the President of AMP or Association of Molecular Pathologists for 2014.
Elaine joined us on the program last year just before the FDA issued the guidance to make the argument that actually what her lab performs are LDPs or Laboratory Developed Processes and not tests. Because they are processes that require a medical professional, this service is more akin to the practice of medicine and therefore not to be regulated by the FDA, she believes.
Nonetheless, guidance has been issued, and it looks like it will go forward. Elaine and other stakeholders around the community have given their input. Will they be heard? What is Elaine’s best hope for an outcome that will work for laboratories across the country and satisfy the FDA?
Stay tuned for interviews with Liz Mansfield of the FDA and the feedback of other stakeholders in this ongoing series.
Janet, Woodcock, MD, Director, CDER, FDA
Bio and Contact Info
Listen (4:41) No agency charged with better translational outcomes
Listen (2:46) How will recent FDA move on LDTs impact biomarker development?
Listen (4:45) Lung Map and the future of clinical trials
Listen (3:07) What about trials of one?
Listen (4:12) Translation not just about getting to Phase I
Listen (1:49) How important are biosampling issues?
Listen (2:50) Diagnosis the foundation of medicine
Listen (2:25) Thoughts on drug pricing debate
Since becoming the Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, Janet Woodcock has been a strong advocate for better science. But the FDA’s job as regulator is to protect and promote health, not particularly to focus on improving the process of drug development. In fact, Janet points out, there is no agency “charged” with better translational outcomes.
For this reason, Janet worked to set up the Critical Path Initiative some years back. This would be a program to bring together a consortia of different organizations to primarily focus on better biomarker development as well as to modernize clinical trials.
Today we ask Janet for an update on the program. Are we getting better biomarkers? And what do the clinical trials of the future look like?
“In the future, we’ll be setting up trials around patients and disease rather than setting up a trial around a drug,” she says in today’s interview. “We have too many questions to answer about treating disease than can be done by serial trials, each one one only addressing a question about a single investigational drug.”
She’s particularly excited about a new Lung Map trial being run by the NCI. This trial is about finding a second line treatment for patients with squamous cell lung cancer. Patients are enrolled into one of five different strata based on the biomarkers of their tumors. This is a trial that can go on and on, where if a patient doesn’t respond to one treatment, this patient can be moved to a different therapy. This type of trial is known as an adaptive trial and has strong support from the FDA.
What are Janet’s thoughts about "trials of one," where the health of the patient in the trial is more important than some future unknown patients as advocated by former guest on the program, Marty Tenenbaum?
And what does Janet think about the translational work of physician scientists who are enrolling their own patients in clinical trials based on those patients' biomarkers?
We explore with Janet the question of why diagnostics are valued so much lower than therapeutics in our culture. And at the end of the interview she offers some brave, if limited, comments about the current debate over drug pricing.
Podcast brought to you by: National Biomarker Development Alliance - Collaboratively creating standards for end-to-end systems-based biomarker development—to advance precision medicine
New technologies and the possibilities they bring to improve human life always come in fits and starts.
Genomic medicine is no exception. The overdriven tools space of next generation sequencing has created a bursting spring season in genomics research. New studies linking “this” biomarker with “that” phenotype bloom with a force of nature leading some to make bold predictions about man’s ability to conquer his own form. We can smell eternity.