|INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/02/2018|
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To a greater or lesser extent, most other countries require some form of quality system and regulatory compliance, which may include periodic inspections, inspections by third party auditors, and specialized documentation. Failure to meet all the requirements of these countries could jeopardize our ability to import, market, support, and receive reimbursement for the use of our products in these countries.
In addition to the above, we may seek to conduct clinical studies or trials in the U.S. or other countries on products that have not yet been cleared or approved for a particular indication. Additional regulations govern the approval, initiation, conduct, documentation, and reporting of clinical studies to regulatory agencies in the countries or regions in which they are conducted. Such investigational use is generally also regulated by local and institutional requirements and policies which usually include review by an ethics committee or institutional review board (“IRB”). Failure to comply with all regulations governing such studies could subject the company to significant enforcement actions and sanctions, including halting of the study, seizure of investigational devices or data, sanctions against investigators, civil or criminal penalties, and other actions. Without the data from one or more clinical studies, it may not be possible for us to secure the data necessary to support certain regulatory submissions, to secure reimbursement, or demonstrate other requirements. We cannot provide assurance that access to clinical investigators, sites and subjects, documentation and data will be available on the terms and timeframes necessary.
Products manufactured outside the U.S. by or for us are subject to U.S. Customs and FDA inspection upon entry into the U.S. We must demonstrate compliance of such products to U.S. regulations and carefully document the eventual distribution or re-exportation of such products. Failure to comply with all applicable regulations could prevent us from having access to products or components critical to the manufacture of finished products and lead to shortages and delays.
The State of California requires that we obtain a license to manufacture medical devices and until 2012 conducted periodic inspections of medical device manufacturers. Our facilities and manufacturing processes were last inspected in July 2011 and were found to be in compliance. In accordance with the State of California regulations, our license to manufacture is renewed annually with any updated manufacturing information. Although the State of California has announced suspension of routine periodic inspections, there can be no assurance the State of California will not resume such inspections or conduct such inspections under specific circumstances which are not yet known.
In order for us to market our products in countries outside the United States, we must obtain regulatory approvals and comply with extensive product and quality system regulations in other countries. These regulations, including the requirements for approvals or clearance and the time required for regulatory review, vary from country to country. Some countries have regulatory review processes which are substantially longer than U.S. processes. Failure to obtain regulatory approval in a timely manner and to meet all local requirements including language and specific safety standards in any foreign country in which we plan to market our products could prevent us from marketing products in such countries or subject us to sanctions and fines.
To be sold in Japan, most medical devices must undergo thorough safety examinations and demonstrate medical efficacy before they receive regulatory approval. We obtained from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (“MHLW”) approval for our da Vinci Si Surgical Systems in October 2012 and approval for our da Vinci Xi Surgical Systems in March 2015. National reimbursement status was received in Japan for dVP procedures, effective April 2012 and for da Vinci partial nephrectomy procedures in April 2016. We are currently seeking reimbursement for additional procedures through the MHLW’s Senshin Iryo processes as well as alternative reimbursement processes. Our Senshin Iryo approvals require in-country clinical data and are considered for reimbursed status in April of even numbered years.
Commercialization of medical devices in Europe is regulated by the European Union (“EU”). The EU presently requires that all medical products bear the Conformité Européenne (“CE”) mark, for compliance with the Medical Device Directive (93/42/EEC) as amended. The CE mark is an international symbol of adherence to certain essential principles of safety and performance mandated in applicable European medical device directives, which once affixed, enables a product to be sold in member countries of the EU and those affiliated countries which accept the CE mark. The CE mark is also recognized in many countries outside of the EU, such as Australia, and can assist in the clearance process. In order to affix the CE mark on products, a recognized European Notified Body must certify a manufacturer’s quality system and design dossier for compliance with international and European requirements. We have received authorization from Presafe Denmark A/S (formerly DGM Denmark A/S), a recognized European Notified Body and part of Nemko Presafe A/S, to affix the CE mark to our da Vinci Surgical System and EndoWrist instruments and accessories. To maintain authorization to apply the CE mark, we are subject to annual surveillance audits and periodic re-certification audits. In September 2013, the European Commission adopted a recommendation indicating that all Notified Bodies, including Presafe, should carry out unannounced audits, at least once every third year, of the manufacturers whose medical devices they have certified. These unannounced audits can also extend to the manufacturer’s critical suppliers or sub-contractors (those that supply a critical input or perform a critical function for the manufacturer).
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