Obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

May 28, 2024


In this episode of the Global Medical Device Podcast, host Etienne Nichols welcomes back Dr. Mike Drues to discuss the critical aspects of obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and interacting with the FDA for medical device clinical trials.

They explore the roles of IRBs, the difference between significant and non-significant risk devices, and share invaluable advice on mitigating risks associated with clinical trials. Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned professional in the MedTech industry, this episode offers essential insights to ensure your clinical studies are compliant and efficient.

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Key Timestamps

  • 00:01:20 – Introduction to Dr. Mike Drues and his accolades.
  • 00:05:30 – Explanation of IRBs and their role in clinical trials.
  • 00:15:10 – Differences between traditional and commercial IRBs.
  • 00:22:40 – Discussion on significant vs. non-significant risk devices.
  • 00:32:00 – Importance of pre-submission meetings with the FDA.
  • 00:44:15 – Steps to take when an IRB disapproves your clinical trial.
  • 01:00:30 – Practical tips for choosing the right IRB for your study.

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding IRBs: IRBs are local entities responsible for the ethical oversight of clinical trials, ensuring patient safety and compliance.
  2. Risk Classification: The classification of your device as significant or non-significant risk dictates whether FDA approval is needed for your clinical trial.
  3. Strategic Pre-Submission: Engaging in a pre-submission meeting with the FDA can prevent costly delays and ensure your clinical trial meets all necessary endpoints.

Practical Tips for MedTech Professionals

  1. IRB Shopping: If faced with an IRB denial, consider alternative institutions or commercial IRBs to avoid delays.
  2. Comprehensive Submissions: Prepare thorough submissions for IRBs, including device descriptions, clinical trial protocols, and informed consent forms.
  3. Physician Champions: Having a physician advocate at the institution can streamline the approval process and facilitate patient enrollment.


Memorable quotes:

  • "Most 510 devices do not need clinical data. But if you do, even for a non-significant risk device, vetting that with the FDA in advance is wise." – Dr. Mike Drues
  • "You don't want to create a problem where none exists, but avoiding FDA consultation can lead to costly surprises later." – Dr. Mike Drues
  • "The primary mission of an IRB is to ensure the safety of the patients at that institution." – Dr. Mike Drues


Love this episode? Leave a review on iTunes! Have suggestions or topics you’d like to hear about? Email us at podcast@greenlight.guru.


This episode is brought to you by Greenlight Guru, a quality management system and electronic data capture software designed specifically for medical device companies. Streamline your processes and stay compliant with Greenlight Guru.

About the Global Medical Device Podcast:

Untitled (8.5 × 3 in)

The Global Medical Device Podcast powered by Greenlight Guru is where today's brightest minds in the medical device industry go to get their most useful and actionable insider knowledge, direct from some of the world's leading medical device experts and companies.

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Etienne Nichols is a Medical Device Guru and Mechanical Engineer who loves learning and teaching how systems work together. He has both manufacturing and product development experience, even aiding in the development of combination drug-delivery devices, from startup to Fortune 500 companies and holds a Project...

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