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The FDA elbows into the app store

Posted: 09/02/10 06:00 AM

By Steve Henn

This is my heart beat.

It was recorded and amplified by an iPhone app, iStethoscope. Then I shook the phone and instantly got this spectrogram, which I can e-mail to my doctor.

Cell phone apps like this are blurring the distinction between medical devices – which are strictly regulated by the FDA – and consumer electronics sold openly online.

Bradley Thompson is a lawyer at Epstein Beck and Green who focuses on the FDA approval process. He says businesses don’t know if the apps they are making will be regulated by the FDA or not.

“I think there is a good there is a good bit of ambiguity now about which of these apps require FDA clearance,” he says. “I know a number of investors who are interested ion those businesses that are kind of nervous.”

Johnson & Johnson’s working on an app that would connect iPhones belonging to diabetics to their glucose monitors. And others believe an app for ultrasound is possible. But the FDA is watching. It’s already forced some firms to pull their medical apps down if they are unproven or make claims the companies can’t back up.

MIMvista created an app that would let radiologists view CT scans, MRIs and x-rays on their mobile phones. The app was slick and beatiful, and it caught the eye of Apple executives. They asked the company to present it at Apple’s world-wide developers conference in 2008.

The FDA was less impressed. Regulators expressed concerns that doctors would be viewing these images under very different conditions than they encountered in a radiology reading room. They asked the group the reapply. After nearly a year of waiting, the FDA decided this app was so new and different that before it could be approved, the firm that made it would have to test it with full-blown clinical trials.

Comments | Filed Under: apps apple medicine

Tech News In Brief - 5/24/10

 by John Moe // Posted: 05/24/10 11:03 AM

Zuckerberg announces impending changes at Facebook - Doesn’t apologize for making privacy settings so difficult. It’s really more of one of those, “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive” type of apologies.

Meanwhile there are alternatives (yes but are they Poke enabled?!)

Zynga Owns You. And Now Your Slurpee Too.

Android v. iPhone war - unlike a real Android War, this is good news for humans and we won’t be vaporized or forced to toil in silicon mines.

DARPA, like Santa but more proactive - Why do stories about crime prevention make me feel less secure?

iPad makes art - still incapable of smoking cigarettes

Genetic testing companies face investigation about whether their thing does anything.

Artificial Heart in a backpack!  - powered by batteries!

Comments | Filed Under: android apple facebook google ipad iphone medicine

today's show

What will we do with all this "white space"?

09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

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