The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) 510(k) Process: A Systematic Review of 1000 Cases

Published:September 25, 2022DOI:



      The vast majority of devices cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are through the 510(k) process, which allows medical devices to be quickly introduced into the market. The FDA 510(k) process is designed to minimize the burden and expense of bringing new devices to market; however, as a result, the FDA may be limited in its ability to establish the safety of these devices.


      The FDA 510(k) online archives were searched for devices cleared from 2013 to 2014. One thousand devices were randomly selected. PubMed was searched for each device to identify publications about the devices. The primary outcome was the percentage of devices cleared through the 510(k) process with no published research. Secondary outcomes included: conflict of interest (COI) of authors and outcomes of published studies on the devices.


      A total of 6152 devices were cleared through the 510(k) process in 2013-2014. Of the 1000 randomly selected devices, 17.8% had published research. There were 375 manuscripts, of which 47 (12.5%) were randomized controlled trials. One-fourth (25.1%) of studies had a clearly identifiable COI, while COI was unclear for half (49.9%).

      Conclusion and Relevance

      There is limited evidence examining the safety and effectiveness of devices cleared via the 510(k) process. Thousands of devices are cleared through the FDA's 510(k) process each year with limited or no evidence publicly available. This has led to the market being introduced to potentially costly, nonbeneficial, or harmful devices. Devices, like prescription drugs, should undergo a more rigorous clearance process.


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