Category Archives: Ethics


Lot Size: YOU – When YOU are the RAW MATERIAL and the FINISHED PRODUCT

Managing the Chain of Custody and Identity for Regenerative Medicine Products.

By: Daniel R. Matlis, President

According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.  “We’re at the beginning of a paradigm change in medicine with the promise of being able to facilitate regeneration of parts of the human body, where cells and tissues can be engineered to grow healthy, functional organs to replace diseased ones; new genes can be introduced into the body to combat disease; and adult stem cells can generate replacements for cells that are lost to injury or disease. This is no longer the stuff of science fiction. This is the practical promise of modern applications of regenerative medicine.”

The promise of individualized therapies is why the FDA is encouraging and supporting innovation in this field. To this end, the Agency has released a framework outlining how it intends to apply existing laws and regulations to oversee these products. FDA’s stated goal is to ensure that it is nimble and creative to foster innovation, while taking steps to protect the safety of patients.

In individualized patient-derived cellular gene therapy products, the patient is the raw material, product, and the treatment.  In gene therapy products, cells removed from the patient become the raw material.  They are then genetically modified and returned to the patient as the “finished product”.

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FDA confirms: Hacking a pacemaker only requires commercially available equipment

By: Giselle C. Matlis, Research Assistant

On August 29, 2017 the FDA published a Safety Communication, Firmware Update to Address Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Identified in Abbott’s (formerly St. Jude Medical’s) Implantable Cardiac Pacemakers , where they announced that they have reviewed information concerning potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities associated with implantable cardiac pacemakers.cyber security copy

In its Safety Communication, FDA confirmed that if exploited, these vulnerabilities could allow an unauthorized user with commercially available equipment to access a patient’s device and could be used to modify programming commands to the implanted pacemaker.  This could result in patient harm from rapid battery depletion or administration of inappropriate pacing. At this point, there have been no known patient harm, however, the FDA has approved a firmware update that addresses these cybersecurity vulnerabilities and reduces the risk of exploitation and subsequent patient harm.

In fact, former Vice President Dick Cheney discussed his fears that terrorists could hack into his pacemaker, a fear he saw come to life while watching an episode of “Homeland.”Indeed, when doctors implanted Cheney’s pacemaker in 2007, they disabled the wireless feature out of fear that someone could manipulate it and disrupt his heartbeat.

The FDA has been warning about cybersecurity on medical devices for over a decade.  As Eric Luyer stated in his March 2017 article “the time to implement a proactive, comprehensive risk management program to eliminate cybersecurity threats is now”.

Cybersecurity of connected medical devices must be a key step in the design process.  Medical Device manufacturers must be proactive instead of reactive to cybersecurity concerns when developing new products.


With Growth Rates Stagnating In Developed Markets, What Is A Med-Tech Exec To Do?

Push for growth in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).
For some Med-Tech Companies, growth rates in emerging markets are double, triple and in some cases 10-fold those in the US and other developed markets. This trend was clearly evident as I listened to and reviewed transcripts from Q4 2012 earnings calls from Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, and Medtronic.

While emerging markets continue to present significant growth opportunities, how can med-tech companies address the variety of needs and delivery models in these markets, while addressing increasing pricing pressures in developed economies?

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Qualcomm Helps Bring Star Trek Technology to Healthcare

By Daniel R. Matlis

In 1966 the Star Trek television series introduced us to the Medical Tricorder – a hand held device used by doctors to diagnose diseases and collect vital medical information about a patient.   Forty-five years later this object of an active imagination may in fact become reality.


The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation recently announced the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize – a $10 million global competition to develop devices that will give consumers access to their state of health by using mobile technology.  Some of the technology needed to meet this goal has already been developed.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rick Valencia, VP and GM of Qualcomm Life about the Tricorder X Prize, Qualcomm Life’s 2netTM Platform and its impact on Healthcare.

“Up to 90% of health care spending today goes to managing chronic diseases,” commented Valencia.   There is a shift to a new model of health care delivery based on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  The ACO mission is to keep patients healthier (and out of hospitals) through coordinated care.  Mobile communication devices play an important role in supporting this shift and making this goal more realistic.  “Hospital readmissions are a $25B problem in this country,” added Rick – enabling mobile devices to transmit medical data to health care practitioners on a periodic basis would enable early intervention.   Lower readmission costs will enable the market to support transformation to new health care models.

“Qualcomm’s 2net Platform and Hub were developed to be used in connection with wireless medical devices to support this transformation, “Rick stated.  It is important to note that both the 2net Platform and Hub are listed with the FDA as Class I Medical Device Data Systems (MDDS), which makes Qualcomm a medical device manufacturer.  The 2net Platform allows medical devices to connect via USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to so that their data can be available across the continuum of care – an issue with managing chronic diseases.

“The beauty of the 2net ecosystem is that it provides medical device manufacturers with a one stop shop for wireless enablement of their devices.  It is also an open forum that encourages the creation of new healthcare apps,” noted Rick.  Using the 2net technology, data could be aggregated and analyzed for trends or anomalies.  The Platform connects patients with caregivers, family, and clinicians providing timely feedback.

Rick also pointed out that there are several benefits to device manufacturers around implementing this new technology:

  • It provides a means of getting data out of devices outside of the clinical setting:
  • It creates an interoperable ecosystem with medical devices, mobile medical applications and health service providers like hospitals; and
  • It provides system support for tracking and tracing.

“Wireless technology is the biggest platform on earth.  We need to leverage it in health care,” declared Rick.  That is reason why the Qualcomm Foundation joined with X PRIZE to challenge the industry to develop a global customer platform.

I concur with Rick, mobile devices are the most exiting tools available today to improve health care.