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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Enforcement Actions

Flir System AB

  

Department of Health and Human Services logoDepartment of Health and Human Services

Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
 10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

JAN 06, 2011

WARNING LETTER

VIA UNITED PARCEL SERVICE

Central Coast Thermography
Breast Health Imaging Centers
Gaea Powell, CTT
1407 Garden Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
 
Re: FLIR Series Infrared cameras
 
Dear Ms. Powell:
 
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has learned that your facilities are marketing the FLIR Telethermographic camera for uses which have not received marketing clearance or approval, in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act). 
 
Under section 201(h) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 321(h), the FLIR Telethermographic camera is a device because it is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body. The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has reviewed your website at http://www.centralcoastthermography.com and has been made aware of a recurring radio spot featuring you. Your website and radio feature promote the FLIR Telethermographic camera for uses for which you have not obtained marketing approval or clearance, which is a violation of the law.    
 
A review of our records indicates that a premarket notification (510(k)) for the FLIR Telethermographic camera Series A, E, P and S was cleared on March 9, 2004 “for use as an adjunct to other clinical diagnostic procedures in the diagnosis, quantifying, and screening of differences in skin surface temperature changes” (K033967). The cleared indication for use statement also states that the FLIR Telethermographic camera Series A, E, P and S can “visualize and document temperature patterns and changes.” Based on the cleared indication for use statement, it is evident that the FLIR Telethermographic camera Series A, E, P and S is not intended to be used alone to diagnose or screen any disease or condition. However, your website and radio feature make claims that the FLIR Telethermographic camera can be used alone to diagnose or screen diseases and conditions.    
 
For example, your website contains the following statements that represent or suggest that the FLIR Telethermographic camera is intended to be used as a stand-alone device to diagnose or screen for various diseases or conditions associated with the breast:
 
  1.  Listed among “ADVANTAGES OF THERMOGRAPHY” are the following statements:
  • Detects breast tissue abnormalities 8 to 10 years before a mammogram can detect a mass
  • Effectively and safely screens breasts with implants
  • Useful for evaluating chest wall after breast surgery
  • Detects irregular vascular patterns relating to hormone imbalance
  • Creates opportunities for early intervention
  • Effective in creating risk assessment and risk management According to a report in the American Journal of Radiology, Breast Thermography has: 99% sensitivity, 90% specificity, 90% accuracy
  1. Statements that “[T]hermography is particularly useful for women under 50 (breast cancer is the number one cause of death in women ages 40 - 52) in ruling out or properly diagnosing cancer and a host of other breast diseases such as fibrocystic syndrome and Paget's disease. Inflammatory breast disease cannot be detected by mammography and is most commonly seen in younger women…By performing Thermography years before conventional mammography, an at risk patient can be safely monitored and this can increase the patient's treatment options and ultimately improve the outcome.”
  2. There are also two videos posted on your website, one entitled “An Alternative to Mammograms: Thermography…,” aired as a local program and remains as a YouTube video, and the other features you promoting the use of thermography for the prevention of breast cancer and prevention of disease.
Not only do the statements made on your website and the content of the videos indicate that the FLIR Telethermographic camera can be used alone to diagnose or screen for various diseases or conditions associated with the breast, but they also represent that the sensitivity of the FLIR Telethermographic camera is greater than that of mammography. In addition, your website also claims that, "[m]uscular skeletal disorders, inflammation, chronic pain and injuries can be detected and monitored.” 
 
Moreover, the radio feature aired on 920 AM KVEC asks, “Ladies - are you looking for a safe alternative to mammograms?” and suggests that FLIR Telethermographic camera would be a safer alternative.   
 
These claims all indicate that the FLIR Telethermographic camera Series A, E, P and S can be used alone to diagnose or screen for various diseases or conditions and are therefore outside the 510(k) clearance of the device. For this reason, the FLIR Telethermographic camera is adulterated under section 501(f)(1)(B), 21 U.S.C. § 351(f)(1)(B) of the Act because you do not have an approved application for premarket approval (PMA) in effect pursuant to section 515(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. 360e(a), or an approved application for an investigational device exemption (IDE) under section 520(g) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. 360j(g), for the new intended uses. The kind of information you need to submit in order to obtain approval or clearance for the new intended uses for this device is described on the Internet at http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/devadvice/3122.html.  The FDA will evaluate the information you submit and decide whether your product may be legally marketed.
 
In addition, the FLIR Telethermographic camera is misbranded under 502(a) of the Act (21 U.S.C. 352(a)) in that your website contains statements that are misleading under 21 CFR 807.97, because such statements create an impression of official approval of a device based on the clearance of a premarket notification submission. Specifically, the homepage of your website states that your device “is an FDA approved, painless, 15 minute non-invasive medical imaging option.” This device was not approved by the FDA, but was determined to be substantially equivalent within the meaning of section 513(i)(1)(A) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. 360c(i)(1)(A).  
 
The FDA requests that you immediately cease making claims, identical or similar to those described above, for this product. You should take prompt action to correct these violations. Failure to correct these violations promptly may result in the initiation of regulatory action by the Food and Drug Administration without further notice. These actions include, but are not limited to seizure, injunction, and/or civil money penalties.
 
Please submit a written response to this letter within 15 working days from the date you receive this letter, describing your intent to comply with this request, listing all promotional materials that are the same as or similar to those described above, for this product, and explaining your plan for discontinuing use of such materials. Please direct your response to Toni Stifano, Office of Compliance, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, Maryland 20993-0002, facsimile at (301) 847-8138. We remind you that only written communications are considered official.
 
The violations discussed in this letter do not necessarily constitute an exhaustive list. It is your responsibility to ensure that your promotional materials for this product comply with each applicable requirement of the Act and FDA implementing regulations.
 
Sincerely,
/s/
Steven Silverman
Director
Office of Compliance
Center for Devices and Radiological Health