The Continuing Saga of Lab Developed Tests, Including for COVID-19 Testing


In August, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that the FDA will not require premarket review of laboratory developed tests (LDTs), whether COVID-19 related or not, absent notice-and-comment rulemaking.  Labs may voluntarily seek a premarket approval, 510(k) clearance, or an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their LDTs. Importantly, labs that do not obtain such FDA approval, clearance, or authorization would not be eligible for PREP Act coverage.

This announcement may have come as a surprise to FDA, which historically has asserted its medical device regulatory authority over LDTs while often subjecting them to enforcement discretion. Despite this HHS announcement, FDA’s May 11, 2020 Policy for Coronavirus Disease-2019 Tests During the Public Health Emergency remains in effect and has not been revised since the announcement. Importantly, this guidance offers two pathways for COVID-19 related LDTs – an EUA submission to FDA and the development of an LDT under the authorities of the State in which the laboratory resides, where the State takes responsibility for COVID-19 testing by labs in its State.

For FDA’s latest statements on COVID-19 testing, see the opinion piece authored by CDRH Director Dr. Jeffrey Shuren and Dr. Timothy Stenzel, Director of the Office of Health Technology 7, In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, in the Hill.