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OFR Removes Final PMTA Rules From Federal Register


The Biden administration has announced a regulatory freeze on all new and pending rules introduced in the last part of the Trump administration. Included in the freeze are the new finalized rules for premarket tobacco product applications (PMTA) and substantial equivalence (SE) that were announced on Jan. 19, the last full day of the Trump administration.


The FDA’s CBD enforcement policy draft guidance, which had been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since July, was also withdrawn.

Stakeholders and lawmakers have been anticipating the guidance for two years, since the 2018 Farm Bill gave FDA authority over hemp-derived CBD. Representatives from the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and the National Industrial Hemp Council, both of which met with OMB to discuss the draft guide in late July, say the lack of regulatory clarity from the FDA has led to uncertainty in the hemp and CBD industry.


The memo, issued by White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain, calls on the heads of executive departments and agencies to “propose or issue no rule in any manner – including by sending a rule to the Office of the Federal Register [OFR] – until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the president after noon on January 20, 2021, reviews and approves the rule.” Previous administrations, including those of Trump and Barack Obama, issued similar memos to stop last-minute actions by the outgoing administration.


What this means for the vapor industry is unclear. It does not change the rules concerning the Sept. 9 deadline to submit a PMTA to be eligible to stay on the market for year. Because the rule was not formally published in the Federal Register by the U.S. FDA before the end of Trump’s presidency, the Biden administration could move forward with the rule as is, make changes to the rule or scrap the rules entirely.


An editor’s note on the Federal Register website reads, ” The Food and Drug Administration withdrew this document while it was on public inspection. It will remain on public inspection until the close of business on January 27, 2021. A copy of the withdrawal request is available at the Office of the Federal Register.”


The White House memo also explains that it does not strictly apply to “rules” but also to “any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and any agency statement of general applicability and future effect that sets for a policy on a statutory, regulatory, or technical issue or an interpretation of a statutory or regulatory issue.”


Finalized Rules explained


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 20 finalized two foundational rules for the premarket review of new tobacco products. These final rules provide additional information on the minimum requirements for the content, format and review of premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs) and substantial equivalence (SE) reports. PMTA and SE are two of the pathways through which a manufacturer can seek marketing authorization for a new tobacco product from the FDA.


“The finalization of these foundational rules is an important milestone in the FDA’s regulation of tobacco products. The rules enable greater transparency and efficiency of the FDA’s critical task of reviewing applications for tobacco products before new products can be sold in the United States and they describe information that any company must provide if they seek to market a new tobacco product in this country, fulfilling the promise of the Tobacco Control Act,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn.


“These final rules, together with our commitment to ongoing enforcement action against e-cigarettes and other tobacco products that illegally target youth, will help us continue to protect the public from the dangers of tobacco-related disease and death,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These final rules will provide greater clarity and efficiency as we ensure that tobacco products are put through an appropriate series of regulatory gates so that products can be marketed only if they meet the standards under the law.”

Both of these final rules are effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information about the two foundational rules is available on the FDA website.

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