Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ohio-Based Wheelchair Manufacturer Agrees to Consent Decree to Resolve Allegations of Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act Violations

The Justice Department, at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), today filed a complaint and a proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against Invacare Corp., Gerald B. Blouch and Ronald J. Clines. The complaint and proposed consent decree are being filed today in accordance with an agreement with the defendants resolving numerous allegations of violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).


The defendants design, manufacture and distribute powered wheelchairs and powered hospital beds, which are medical devices under the FDCA. Medical device manufacturers are required to comply with the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) regulatory requirements in order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their devices.


The FDA conducted multiple inspections of Invacare’s corporate headquarters and Taylor Street manufacturing facility, both located in Elyria, Ohio, between September 2002 and August 2011. Those inspections revealed significant violations of the CGMP regulatory requirements. Many of the violations related to design controls, complaint handling, and corrective and preventive action (CAPA). Those regulations ensure that when a device manufacturer learns that one of its devices has malfunctioned or has caused injury to a patient, the complaint is thoroughly investigated and necessary design changes are implemented. Without such controls, recurring defects may not be identified or corrected, endangering patients who rely on the defendants’ powered wheelchairs and beds.


Under the terms of the agreement reached with the government, the defendants cannot resume manufacturing power wheelchairs or conducting design activities related to wheelchairs and power beds at the two Ohio facilities until an independent expert inspects the company’s operations and certifies that the defendants are in compliance with the law. FDA can then evaluate that certification. Until FDA provides written notification that the facilities are in compliance with the law, they cannot resume operations.


“Today’s proposed consent decree would require Invacare to establish procedures that will help ensure their products are safe and effective for the patients who rely on them,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “Consumers who need wheelchairs or powered hospital beds should not have to risk being harmed by the very products meant to help them.”


“This resolution underscores the commitment of our office and this department to protecting consumers, particularly those who have to use wheelchairs or hospital beds,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. 


The matter was handled by the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, the FDA’s Office of the General Counsel, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Consumer Protection
Press Release Number: 
Updated October 22, 2014