Medical Devices

Humanitarian Device Exemption


An Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) is a device that is intended to benefit patients by treating or diagnosing a disease or condition that affects or is manifested in fewer than 4,000 individuals in the United States per year. A device manufacturer`s research and development costs could exceed its market returns for diseases or conditions affecting small patient populations. The HUD provision of the regulation provides an incentive for the development of devices for use in the treatment or diagnosis of diseases affecting these populations.

To obtain approval for an HUD, an humanitarian device exemption (HDE) application is submitted to FDA. An HDE is similar in both form and content to a premarket approval (PMA) application, but is exempt from the effectiveness requirements of a PMA. An HDE application is not required to contain the results of scientifically valid clinical investigations demonstrating that the device is effective for its intended purpose. The application, however, must contain sufficient information for FDA to determine that the device does not pose an unreasonable or significant risk of illness or injury, and that the probable benefit to health outweighs the risk of injury or illness from its use, taking into account the probable risks and benefits of currently available devices or alternative forms of treatment. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate that no comparable devices are available to treat or diagnose the disease or condition, and that they could not otherwise bring the device to market. 

Please refer to the eCopy guidance for current information on the number of copies and the format (paper versus eCopy) you must send to the Document Control Center (DCC). The current mailing address for CDRH’s DCC and a link to CBER’s DCC’s mailing address are provided on the eCopy Program for Medical Device Submissions webpage.

An approved HDE authorizes marketing of the HUD. However, an HUD may only be used in facilities that have established a local institutional review board (IRB) to supervise clinical testing of devices and after an IRB has approved the use of the device to treat or diagnose the specific disease.

The labeling for an HUD must state that the device is an humanitarian use device and that, although the device is authorized by Federal Law, the effectiveness of the device for the specific indication has not been demonstrated.

Form FDA-3674, Data Bank

Title VIII of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA) included a provision that all HDE applications are required to be accompanied with certification that all applicable clinical trial information has been submitted to the data bank. 

Beginning December 26, 2007, HDE applications must include form FDA-3674. If your HDE includes data from a clinical trial, you must determine if your study is applicable for entry into the clinical trial registry data bank at Based on this determination, check box 9.B. or 9.C., and complete the applicable sections of the form. An applicable device clinical trial is a prospective clinical study of health outcomes comparing an intervention with a device against a control in human subjects (other than a small clinical trial to determine the feasibility of a device, or a clinical trial to test prototype devices where the primary outcome measure relates to feasibility and not to health outcomes). See Title VIII - Clinical Trial Databases.

Currently, FDA is reviewing the legislation and developing guidance on which clinical trials meet the definition of "applicable" trials and are required to report to Until FDA issues this guidance, the HDE sponsor is responsible for determining whether its studies meet the definition of an applicable trial and, therefore, are subject to reporting requirements.

Information on how to register your clinical trial(s) in the data bank is available on the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Protocol Registration System (PRS) web site.

Page Last Updated: 03/17/2017
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