Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new webpage to assist the public understand the Use of Symbols in Labeling Final Rule. The final rule was issued by the FDA in June 2016 and became effective three months later.

FDA intends the final rule to be an attempt to “harmonize the U.S. device labeling requirements for symbols with international regulatory requirements. As the medical device industry has requested the ability to use stand-alone symbols on domestic device labeling, consistent with their current use on devices manufactured for European and other foreign markets.” This is exciting news for our clients who are Medical Device Manufacturers or Importers – as of September 2016 all medical device labeling may use stand-alone symbols!

What does the Use of Symbols in Labeling Final Rule provide for?

  • Permits the use of symbols in all medical device labeling without adjacent explanatory text. This means “stand-alone symbols” may be used, but only if certain requirements are met.
  • Stipulates the use of symbols, accompanied by adjacent explanatory text is still permitted. This means companies are not required to relabel their products, even if they meet the requirements for the use of “stand-alone symbols”.
  • Revises prescription device labeling regulations, now permitting to use the symbol statement “Rx only” or “℞ only” in the labeling for prescription devices.
  • The final rule does not apply to product graphics or pictograms, such as graphics showing the steps for using a device.

Ultimately a Device Manufacture has three options to choose from:

  1. Do not use symbols
  2. Use symbols with adjacent explanatory text, or
  3. Use stand-alone symbols

What are “stand-alone symbols”?

What is required to qualify for use of “stand-alone symbols”?

  • Under the final rule there are two possibilities to permit a medical device label to carry “stand-alone symbols” without adjacent explanatory text.
  1. As long as the standard symbol is recognized by FDA under its authority under section 514(c) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360d(c)) and the symbol is used according to the specifications for use of the symbol set forth in FDA’s section 514(c) recognition, OR
  1. If the symbol is not included in a standard recognized by FDA under section 514(c) or the symbol is in a standard recognized by FDA but is not used according to the specifications for use of the symbol set out in the FDA section 514(c) recognition, the device manufacturer otherwise determines that the symbol is likely to be read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase and use in compliance with section 502(c) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 352(c)) and uses the symbol according to the specifications for use of the symbol set forth in the SDO-developed standard.
  • In either case, the symbol must be explained in a symbols glossary that is included in the labeling for the medical device and the use of symbols must also comply with other applicable labeling requirements in the FD&C Act.

Who benefits from the Use of Symbols in Labeling Final Rule?

  • Device Manufacturers
  • Importers
  • International trade community

Manufacturers or Importers who have questions about implementing the Symbols final rule are encouraged to contact our office at or 305-456-3830.

More information is available at:

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