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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21

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The information on this page is current as of Dec 22, 2023.

For the most up-to-date version of CFR Title 21, go to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).

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Help | More About 21CFR
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 1]
[CITE: 21CFR10.85]



Subpart B - General Administrative Procedures

Sec. 10.85 Advisory opinions.

(a) An interested person may request an advisory opinion from the Commissioner on a matter of general applicability.

(1) The request will be granted whenever feasible.

(2) The request may be denied if:

(i) The request contains incomplete information on which to base an informed advisory opinion;

(ii) The Commissioner concludes that an advisory opinion cannot reasonably be given on the matter involved;

(iii) The matter is adequately covered by a prior advisory opinion or a regulation;

(iv) The request covers a particular product or ingredient or label and does not raise a policy issue of broad applicability; or

(v) The Commissioner otherwise concludes that an advisory opinion would not be in the public interest.

(b) A request for an advisory opinion is to be submitted in accordance with § 10.20, is subject to the provisions of § 10.30 (c) through (l), and must be in the following form:


Dockets Management Staff, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Request for Advisory Opinion

The undersigned submits this request for an advisory opinion of the Commissioner of Food and Drugs with respect to ______ (the general nature of the matter involved).

A. Issues involved.

(A concise statement of the issues and questions on which an opinion is requested.)

B. Statement of facts and law.

(A full statement of all facts and legal points relevant to the request.)

The undersigned certifies that, to the best of his/her knowledge and belief, this request includes all data, information, and views relevant to the matter, whether favorable or unfavorable to the position of the undersigned, which is the subject of the request.


(Person making request)

(Mailing address)

(Telephone number)

(c) The Commissioner may respond to an oral or written request to the agency as a request for an advisory opinion, in which case the request will be filed with the Dockets Management Staff and be subject to this section.

(d) A statement of policy or interpretation made in the following documents, unless subsequently repudiated by the agency or overruled by a court, will constitute an advisory opinion:

(1) Any portion of a Federal Register notice other than the text of a proposed or final regulation, e.g., a notice to manufacturers or a preamble to a proposed or final regulation.

(2) Trade Correspondence (T.C. Nos. 1-431 and 1A-8A) issued by FDA between 1938 and 1946.

(3) Compliance policy guides issued by FDA beginning in 1968 and codified in the Compliance Policy Guides manual.

(4) Other documents specifically identified as advisory opinions, e.g., advisory opinions on the performance standard for diagnostic X-ray systems, issued before July 1, 1975, and filed in a permanent public file for prior advisory opinions maintained by the Division of Freedom of Information (ELEM-1029)" and adding in its place "(the Freedom of Information Staff's address is available on the agency's web site at http://www.fda.gov. )

(e) An advisory opinion represents the formal position of FDA on a matter and except as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, obligates the agency to follow it until it is amended or revoked. The Commissioner may not recommend legal action against a person or product with respect to an action taken in conformity with an advisory opinion which has not been amended or revoked.

(f) In unusual situations involving an immediate and significant danger to health, the Commissioner may take appropriate civil enforcement action contrary to an advisory opinion before amending or revoking the opinion. This action may be taken only with the approval of the Commissioner, who may not delegate this function. Appropriate amendment or revocation of the advisory opinion involved will be expedited.

(g) An advisory opinion may be amended or revoked at any time after it has been issued. Notice of amendment or revocation will be given in the same manner as notice of the advisory opinion was originally given or in the Federal Register, and will be placed on public display as part of the file on the matter in the office of the Dockets Management Staff. The Dockets Management Staff shall maintain a separate chronological index of all advisory opinions filed. The index will specify the date of the request for the advisory opinion, the date of the opinion, and identification of the appropriate file.

(h) Action undertaken or completed in conformity with an advisory opinion which has subsequently been amended or revoked is acceptable to FDA unless the Commissioner determines that substantial public interest considerations preclude continued acceptance. Whenever possible, an amended or revoked advisory opinion will state when action previously undertaken or completed does not remain acceptable, and any transition period that may be applicable.

(i) An interested person may submit written comments on an advisory opinion or modified advisory opinion. Four copies of any comments are to be sent to the Dockets Management Staff for inclusion in the public file on the advisory opinion. Individuals may submit only one copy. Comments will be considered in determining whether further modification of an advisory opinion is warranted.

(j) An advisory opinion may be used in administrative or court proceedings to illustrate acceptable and unacceptable procedures or standards, but not as a legal requirement.

(k) A statement made or advice provided by an FDA employee constitutes an advisory opinion only if it is issued in writing under this section. A statement or advice given by an FDA employee orally, or given in writing but not under this section or § 10.90, is an informal communication that represents the best judgment of that employee at that time but does not constitute an advisory opinion, does not necessarily represent the formal position of FDA, and does not bind or otherwise obligate or commit the agency to the views expressed.

[44 FR 22323, Apr. 13, 1979, as amended at 46 FR 8455, Jan. 27, 1981; 59 FR 14364, Mar. 28, 1994; 65 FR 56477, Sept. 19, 2000; 76 FR 31469, June 1, 2011; 79 FR 68114, Nov. 14, 2014]