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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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What does it mean for FDA to "classify" a medical device?

FDA classifies medical devices based on the risks associated with the device. Devices are classified into one of three categories—Class I, Class II, and Class III.

Class I devices are deemed to be low risk and are therefore subject to the least regulatory controls. For example, dental floss is classified as Class I device.

Class II devices are higher risk devices than Class I and require greater regulatory controls to provide reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness. For example, condoms are classified as Class II devices. 

Class III devices are generally the highest risk devices and are therefore subject to the highest level of regulatory control. Class III devices must typically be approved by FDA before they are marketed. For example, replacement heart valves are classified as Class III devices. 

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