Proposed Industry Best Practices in Development and Marketing of Medical Foods for the Management of Chronic Conditions and Diseases while Awaiting Regulation

Bruce P. Burnett Robert M. Levy


Ideal therapeutics have low toxicity and can effectively manage condition(s) or disease(s). The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) marketing category of therapeutics called “medical foods” (MFs) meets such a definition. Medical foods have existed in Federal law since passage the Orphan Drug Act in 1988, which created a category of nutritional therapeutics separate from drugs. Unfortunately, MFs are not widely understood by the medical community or utilized in all patients who need them due to lack of a FDA-approval process, unclear and contradictory guidance especially with regard for need for an investigational new drug (IND) application, and no clear regulations regarding their development and marketing. The goals of this article are to propose “Best Practices” to guide the medical food industry in the development and marketing of products as well as to serve as a starting point for suggestions regarding further FDA regulation so that therapeutics which are shown to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS), provide food ingredients to meet a distinctive nutritional requirement for a specific condition/disease and are proven effective for the management for that condition/disease can be used to benefit patients who need them.