FDA Announces Recognition of VHP as an Established Method of Sterilization

Jan. 8, 2024
Vaporized hydrogen peroxide is now considered an established method of sterilization for medical devices

On Jan. 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced via a press release that it considers vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) to be an established method of sterilization for medical devices, recognizing VHP’s long history of safety and effectiveness.

The press release states that “The FDA has revised the final guidance, Submission and Review of Sterility Information in Premarket Notification (510(k)) Submissions for Devices Labeled as Sterile, to list VHP as an example of an Established Category A method of sterilization. This update will facilitate broader adoption of VHP as a sterilization method for the medical device industry, is part of the agency’s multi-pronged approach to reducing the use of ethylene oxide (EtO) where possible and further supports the agency’s efforts to advance medical device supply chain resiliency.”

The press release adds that effective sterilization processes are imperative for certain devices to remain safe. In addition to killing potentially harmful microorganisms, sterilization processes cannot damage devices and for many devices marketed as sterile, a premarket submission has to contain information sufficient to show the sterilization process is effective and consistent with internally accepted consensus standard(s) that the FDA recognizes.

“EtO is the most commonly used sterilization method for medical devices in the U.S., with more than 20 billion devices sold in the U.S. every year sterilized with EtO, accounting for approximately 50% of devices that require sterilization,” the press release comments. “Since 2019, the FDA has promoted the development of alternatives to EtO and has implemented a number of programs and initiatives to support innovation in medical device sterilization. This includes developing Sterilization Master File Pilot programs to support certain changes to sterilization processes, launching innovation challenges to encourage new strategies to reduce EtO emissions and the development of new sterilization methods or technologies and proactively engaging with industry to help advance innovative alternatives to EtO. “

Suzanne Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A., director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Technology Innovation in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health was quoted in the release. She says, “The FDA’s commitment is to protect public health, a critical mission in today’s complex medical device ecosystem. Vaporized hydrogen peroxide’s addition as an established sterilization method helps us build a more resilient supply chain for sterilized devices that can help prevent medical device shortages. As innovations in sterilization advance, the FDA will continue to seek additional modalities that deliver safe and effective sterilization methods that best protect public health.”

FDA has the full press release.