Any Federal Right to Repair Law Needs Medical Device Carve Outs

On Tuesday, the White House hosted a virtual briefing on right to repair highlighting the various federal and state actions aimed at giving consumers more control over fixing their devices. Of note, Apple participated in the event saying it’s ready to provide access to spare parts, service manuals and repair tools on “reasonable terms” and expressed their support for some form of a nationwide right-to-repair law.

This is certainly a win for the administration. In his 2021 Executive Order on promoting competition, President Biden made it abundantly clear that right to repair was going to be an immediate priority for his administration. Since then, there has been an increase in state legislative efforts and private sector commitments to address repair issues that impact specific industries like farming or products like tablets.

During Tuesday’s conversation, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan also spoke her agency’s focus to deal with companies who aim to purposefully thwart consumer and third party repair. But during her remarks she used our nation’s healthcare system as an anecdote to showcase why right to repair is necessary. She stated that the FTC has heard from “healthcare workers and hospitals, worried they will be unable to fix a ventilator because a manufacturer was seeking to deny access to repair it.”

While consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic brought up many issues like overcrowded hospitals and a shortage of medical equipment, one thing we must keep top of mind is that in the medical space, patient safety is paramount.  Therefore, the first thing on lawmakers minds as they consider medical device right to repair is how can we ensure the most qualified people making repairs to these life-saving devices? The only way to do that is to provide a medical device carve out, because the stakes are simply too high with these federally regulated products to do anything otherwise.

Listen to the full conversation here.