To use medical devices rationally, health-care professionals must base their choices of which devices to recommend for individual patients on an objective appraisal of their safety and clinical efficacy. The evidence submitted by manufacturers when seeking approval of their high-risk devices must be publicly available, including technical performance and premarket clinical studies. Giving physicians access to this information supplements the peer-reviewed scientific literature and might be essential for comparing alternative devices within any class. Interested patients should be encouraged to review the evidence for any device that has been recommended for them. The new EU law on medical devices states that the manufacturer is to prepare a summary of the evidence for any implantable or high-risk device. Defining its content, however, has been delegated to implementing legislation, which is now being considered. From a clinical perspective, it is imperative that all evidence reviewed by notified bodies and regulatory authorities is disclosed-with the exception, if justified, only of technical specifications that are considered confidential or manufacturing details that are protected as intellectual property-and public access to this evidence must be guaranteed by EU law. From ethical and other perspectives, there are no grounds for less clinical evidence being available to health-care professionals about the medical devices that they use than is already available for new pharmaceutical products. Full transparency is needed; without it, informed decisions relating to the use of new medical devices will remain impossible.
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