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Cartilage. 2013 Jan;4(1):4-11. doi: 10.1177/1947603512460756.

Regulatory Challenges for Cartilage Repair Technologies.

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Musculoskeletal Clinical Regulatory Advisers, Washington, DC, USA.


In the United States, few Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved options exist for the treatment of focal cartilage and osteochondral lesions. Developers of products for cartilage repair face many challenges to obtain marketing approval from the FDA. The objective of this review is to discuss the necessary steps for FDA application and approval for a new cartilage repair product. FDA Guidance Documents, FDA Panel Meetings, scientific organization recommendations, and were reviewed to demonstrate the current thinking of FDA and the scientific community on the regulatory process for cartilage repair therapies. Cartilage repair therapies can receive market approval from FDA as medical devices, drugs, or biologics, and the specific classification of product can affect the nonclinical, clinical, and regulatory strategy to bring the product to market. Recent FDA guidance gives an outline of the required elements to bring a cartilage repair product to market, although these standards are often very general. As a result, companies have to carefully craft their study patient population, comparator group, and clinical endpoint to best showcase their product's attributes. In addition, regulatory strategy and manufacturing process validation need to be considered early in the clinical study process to allow for timely product approval following the completion of clinical study. Although the path to regulatory approval for a cartilage repair therapy is challenging and time-consuming, proper clinical trial planning and attention to the details can eventually save companies time and money by bringing a product to the market in the most expeditious process possible.


FDA; articular cartilage; clinical trials; regulatory affairs

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