I <3 Intended Use (and why some new technologies may fall within FDA jurisdiction)

Cross-posted on Stanford’s Law and Biosciences Blog

A few news stories over the past week or so—one in the Wall Street Journal about “neurotech,” one in Geek Gadget about “neuroscience wearables,” one in the Washington Post about baby monitors for measuring an infant’s vital signs, and one in Gizmodo about “vaginal wellness products” marketed on Etsy—reminded me how much I enjoy questions of intended use.  As I wrote last week, intended use is a critical concept in FDA law, in part because a product’s intended use is crucial to determining whether it meets the law’s definition of drug or device within the FDA’s jurisdiction.  And, for whatever reason, I have an unabashed and—as far as I can tell—limitless love for thinking through questions about whether, and how, products fall with the definition of a drug or device.

As for the reported neurotech, neuro-wearable, baby monitor, and vaginal wellness products, it seems to me that many of these products may fall within the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s (FDCA) definitions of drugs or devices.  Why is that?

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