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ISO 13485 is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, published in 2003, that represents the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system for the design and manufacture of medical devices. This standard supersedes earlier documents such as EN 46001 and EN 46002 (both 1997), the ISO 13485 published in 1996 and ISO 13488 (also 1996).
Though it is tailored to the industry's quality system expectations and regulatory requirements, an organization does not need to be actively manufacturing medical devices or their components to seek certification to this standard, in contrast to the automotive sector's ISO/TS 16949, where only firms with an active request for quotation, or on the bid list, of an International Automotive Task Force supply chain manufacturer can seek registration.
While it remains a stand-alone document, ISO 13485 is generally harmonized with ISO 9001. A principal difference, however, is that ISO 9001 requires the organization to demonstrate continual improvement, whereas ISO 13485 requires only that the certified organization demonstrate the quality system is effectively implemented and maintained. Additionally, the ISO 9001 requirements regarding customer satisfaction are absent from the medical device standard.
Other specific differences include:
Compliance with ISO 13485 is often seen as the first step in achieving compliance with European regulatory requirements. The conformity of Medical Devices and In-vitro Diagnostic Medical Device according to European Union Directives 93/42/EEC, 90/385/EEC and 98/79/EEC must be assessed before sale is permitted. The preferred method to prove conformity is the certification of the Quality Management System according ISO 9001 and/or ISO 13485 and ISO 14971 by a Notified Body. The result of a positive assessment is the certificate of conformity allowing the CE mark and the permission to sell the medical device in the European Union.
ISO 13485 is now considered to be inline standard and requirement for medical devices even with "Global Harmonization Task Force Guidelines" (GHTF). The GHTF guidelines are slowly becoming universal standards for design, manufacture,export and sales of various medical devices. The GHTF has been replaced in the last few years by the International Medical Device Regulatory Forum (IMDRF) and is structured differently from the GHTF as only the regulators, that are primary members of the group, get to make many of the decisions. The IMDRF main membership (the regulators) do want to have non-regulators involved without voting rights and in this way they are hoping to get the process and documents completed quicker than under the GHTF system (regulators & non-regulators were equal in voting rights) that worked reasonably well, but somewhat slow.
This standard adopted by CEN as EN ISO 13485:2012 is harmonized with respect to the European Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC.