The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE) is a unique marketing approval pathway for medical devices targeting diseases affecting small (rare) patient populations. In an effort to increase the utilization and success of this pathway, the FDA has analyzed data from HDE approvals from 2007 to 2015 to identify factors that have contributed to a successful HDE marketing application. There were 28 HDE approvals during the analysis period and were based on a broad range of data constituting valid scientific evidence. Most had at least one prospectively conducted clinical trial to support safety and probable benefit. An analysis of these HDE approvals demonstrates that the FDA exercises a high degree of flexibility when reviewing HDE applications.

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