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Med Devices (Auckl). 2014 Jun 13;7:205-9. doi: 10.2147/MDER.S43369. eCollection 2014.

Barriers to medical device innovation.

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The Intervention Centre, Oslo University Hospital, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined a medical device as a health care product that does not achieve it's purpose by chemical action or by being metabolized. This means that a vast number of products are considered medical devices. Such devices play an essential role in the practice of medicine. The FDA classifies medical devices in three classes, depending on the risk of the device. Since Class I and II devices have relatively simple requirements for getting to the market, this review will focus on "implantable devices", which, in general, belong to Class III. The European Union and Canada use a slightly different classification system. While early generations of medical devices were introduced without much testing, either technical or clinical, the process of introducing a Class III medical device from concept to clinical practice has become strongly regulated and requires extensive technological and clinical testing. The modern era of implantable medical devices may be considered to have started in the 1920s with development of artificial hips. The implantable pacemaker was another milestone and pacemakers and cardioverters/defibrillators have since saved millions of lives and created commercial giants in the medical device industry. This review will include some examples of cardiovascular devices. Similar considerations apply to the total implantable device market, although clinical and technological applications obviously vary considerably.


CE-mark; FDA; implantable; innovation; regulation

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