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FDA recalls faulty iOS app that injured hundreds of insulin pump users

The big picture: The recall underscores the FDA’s challenge in keeping pace with innovation in healthcare technology. While criticisms regarding the agency’s slow processes are common, recent efforts indicate a commitment to enhance oversight of healthcare tech. This includes organizational changes within the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Technology Innovation. Yet, the question remains: Can new bureaucratic measures effectively address the FDA’s shortcomings?

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a Class 1 recall for an iOS app that interfaces with an insulin pump due to a software glitch causing the app to crash and automatically restart. This intermittent malfunction drains the pump’s battery and may lead to premature shutdown. Such a shutdown halts insulin delivery, posing risks of hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis.

As of April 15, 2024, there have been no reported deaths, but 224 individuals have reported injuries. A Class 1 recall, the most severe, is initiated when injuries or fatalities are possible, as per the FDA’s classification system.

The affected product, the t:slim X2 Insulin Pump Mobile App version 2.7, is manufactured by Tandem Diabetes Care. The company has issued a recall and advises customers to update to version 2.7.1 or later.

The recalled version of the app was distributed between February 12 and March 13, 2024, affecting 85,863 devices in the US.

Healthcare apps for mobile devices and smartphones have become commonplace, with new applications released regularly.

Earlier this year, Samsung Electronics, announced that the sleep apnea feature on the Samsung Health Monitor app received De Novo authorization from the FDA. This feature, which detects signs of sleep apnea using a Samsung Galaxy Watch and phone, was the first of its kind to be authorized by the FDA, following previous approval by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety last October.

However, the FDA has been struggling to keep pace with ongoing rollouts, largely due to a lack of strategic emphasis and limited resources. In an effort to address this issue, the FDA recently elevated the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Technology Innovation to a Super Office designation.

Several organizational shifts are occurring with this new designation, including the establishment of five offices within OST: the Office of Supply Chain Resilience, Digital Health Center of Excellence, Office of Technology and Data Services, Office of Readiness and Response, and Office of Equity and Innovative Development.

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