The premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) process has been a struggle for vapor industry companies that took on the time, effort and expense to keep their products on the market. During the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE), Vapor Voice sat down with Blackbriar Regulatory Services (BRS), a firm specializing in helping small-sized to mid-sized companies navigate the regulatory landscape to bring their FDA-regulated product concepts to market, to discuss the lessons it learned while filing 365 PMTAs for its clients. BRS has helped several clients garner acceptance and filing letters from the FDA.
BRS did not exhibit at the TPE. Don Hashagen, VP of business development, and Kristina Rogers, director of marketing and brand management, attended the show to support its partners that were exhibiting. Some of these partners include the Charlie’s Chalk Dust, The Beard and Humble brands. The pair was also testing the waters for how secure other companies felt about their PMTA submissions.
“If they wait until they get a deficiency letter, that’s too late. That’s 90 days,” said Hashagen. “We want to support the industry whether they have worked with us on their PMTA or not. The more people that make it through PMTA, the better it is for everybody in the industry.”
BRS is offering any company that submitted a PMTA a free gap analysis of their submission. Hashagen said that many companies that submitted PMTAs have yet to complete clinical trials, for example, and the FDA has been clear that it’s a requirement for approval. It’s also time-consuming and expensive.
“The other one is perception and behaviors. We’ve got about 45 people that specialize in PMTAs. Now that we’ve seen enough deficiency letters coming through, we have an understanding of how to respond to those letters,” he said. “Our team can read a PMTA and very quickly say, ‘All right, here’s some major issues you’re going to need to attack. Now, you don’t want to wait too long to get started on a deficiency letter. It’s going to take you more than 90 days to remediate.”
Several manufacturers have received filing letters for their PMTA submissions. This is the stage that the FDA will ask a company to respond to questions the FDA has as well as receive deficiency letters. Because the PMTA is a “living process,” BRS can help a company potentially address a known or found deficiency often before a deficiency letter is even issued.
“Submitting your PMTA is really the first step in a very long, lengthy process. You have multiple audits afterwards with people looking into your manufacturing, into registration, into your PMTA, into post-market surveillance … even after you are authorized for marketing authorization,” explains Rogers. “It’s a long year-to-year process. This is just the beginning of something that’s going to last the length of your product lifetime.”
Having an organization like BRS managing a company’s PMTA allows the client to have access to experts that know what’s coming, says Rogers. BRS knows what’s needed to help take a brand and make it successful in the market while complying with regulatory requirements.
“You spend all this money, you get a market authorization, you’re doing well. But four months later, you trip over your own shoelaces because you did something that could hurt your brand from a marketing standpoint … how you positioned it. Maybe your brand is suddenly considered youth-friendly as FDA guidelines change,” said Rogers. “You can be taken off market almost instantly. As this evolves, you want somebody who’s talking to the [FDA] frequently. We’ve built a working relationship with the agency.” Hashagen says the main reason BRS is offering the free gap analysis is because they really want the industry to not just survive but thrive. “We really want to help people,” he said. “This industry is about helping adult smokers quit combustible tobacco for good. That’s really, really important to us.”