|INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/02/2018|
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If we significantly modify our products after they receive FDA clearance, the FDA may require us to submit a separate 510(k) or premarket approval application (“PMA”) for the modified product before we are permitted to market the products in the U.S. In addition, if we develop products in the future that are not considered to be substantially equivalent to a device with 510(k) clearance or grandfathered status, we will be required to obtain FDA approval by submitting a PMA. A PMA is typically a much more complex, lengthy and burdensome application than a 510(k). To support a PMA, the FDA would likely require that we conduct one or more clinical studies to demonstrate that the device is safe and effective. In some cases such studies may be requested for a 510(k) as well. The FDA may not act favorably or quickly in its review of our 510(k) or PMA submissions, or we may encounter significant difficulties and costs in our efforts to obtain FDA clearance or approval, all of which could delay or preclude the sale of new products in the U.S. Moreover, we may not be able to meet the requirements to obtain 510(k) clearance or PMA approval, in which case the FDA may not grant any necessary clearances or approvals. In addition, the FDA may place significant limitations upon the intended use of our products as a condition to a 510(k) clearance or PMA approval. Product applications can also be denied or withdrawn due to failure to comply with regulatory requirements or the occurrence of unforeseen problems following clearance or approval. Any delays or failure to obtain FDA clearance or approvals of new products we develop, any limitations imposed by the FDA on new product use, or the costs of obtaining FDA clearance or approvals could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.
In addition, the FDA or other regulatory agencies may change their policies, adopt additional regulations, or revise existing regulations, or take other actions which may prevent or delay approval or clearance of our products under development or impact our ability to modify our currently approved or cleared products on a timely basis. We may be found non-compliant as a result of future changes in, or interpretations of, regulations by the FDA or other regulatory agencies. We also cannot predict the likelihood, nature, or extent of government regulation that may arise from future legislation, administrative, or executive action. For example, certain policies of the current U.S. administration may impact our business and industry. Namely, the current U.S. administration has taken several executive actions, including the issuance of a number of Executive Orders, that could impose significant burdens on, or otherwise materially delay, the FDA’s ability to engage in routine regulatory and oversight activities such as implementing statutes through rulemaking, issuance of guidance, and review and approval of marketing applications. It is difficult to predict how these requirements will be implemented, and the extent to which they will impact the FDA’s ability to exercise its regulatory authority. If these executive actions impose constraints on FDA’s ability to engage in oversight and implementation activities in the normal course, our business may be negatively impacted.
In order to conduct a clinical investigation involving human subjects for the purpose of demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of a medical device, a company must, among other things, apply for and obtain Institutional Review Board (“IRB”) approval of the proposed investigation. In addition, if the clinical study involves a “significant risk” (as defined by the FDA) to human health, the sponsor of the investigation must also submit and obtain FDA approval of an Investigational Device Exemption (“IDE”) application. Many of our products to date have been or would be considered significant risk devices requiring IDE approval prior to investigational use. We may not be able to obtain FDA and/or IRB approval to undertake clinical trials in the U.S. for any new devices we intend to market in the U.S. in the future. If we obtain such approvals, we may not be able to conduct studies which comply with the IDE and other regulations governing clinical investigations or the data from any such trials may not support clearance or approval of the investigational device. Failure to obtain such approvals or to comply with such regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Certainty that clinical trials will meet desired endpoints, produce meaningful or useful data and be free of unexpected adverse effects, or that the FDA will accept the validity of foreign clinical study data cannot be assured, and such uncertainty could preclude or delay market clearance or authorizations resulting in significant financial costs and reduced revenue.
In addition, some products may be regulated by the FDA as drugs, biologics, or combination devices which carry still greater requirements for clinical trials, regulatory submissions, and approvals.
COMPLYING WITH FDA REGULATIONS IS A COMPLEX PROCESS, AND OUR FAILURE TO COMPLY FULLY COULD SUBJECT US TO SIGNIFICANT ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS.
Because our products, including the da Vinci Surgical System, are commercially distributed, numerous quality and post-market regulatory requirements apply, including the following:
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