As we have discussed in previous posts, at the end of 2020, the European Commission set out its vision to build a European Health Union with its announcement of the new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe (the new Strategy). In 2021, the Commission has begun to implement the new Strategy, as discussed here. One area that was identified as in need of revision was the unmet medical needs in areas currently not within the scope of the legislation governing rare diseases and paediatric medicines. The Commission has been focused on this area for a number of years, and there have been a number of consultations and stakeholder engagements to explore possible changes to the legislative regime. We set out below a summary of the Commission’s proposals on orphan and paediatric medicinal products.

Continue Reading European Commission’s proposed amendments to orphan and paediatric legislation

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is growing at a significant pace and  spreading across many industry sectors, including healthcare. With the rapid development of AI technology which has the potential to revolutionise many aspects of our lives, including in providing and receiving healthcare services, the concept of “creations of the mind” is no longer limited to creations by a human being. These technological developments mean that the legal framework governing intellectual property (IP) rights such as patents and copyright, which protect “creations of the mind”, may need to be adjusted to address the changes and impacts brought about by the use of AI.

In line with the UK government’s ambition for the UK to be a leader in AI and to better understand the implications AI might have for IP policy, as well as the impact IP might have for AI in the short to medium term, the UK IPO conducted a public consultation at the end of 2020. The aim of the consultation was to seek responses on a range of questions relating to AI and IP rights. The UK IPO received 92 responses from a wide range of stakeholders, including IP rights holders, producers of AI technology and academia. The government’s response to the call for views on AI and IP was published in March 2021, under which reforms to patent and copyright law and policy were discussed.

In this blog, we summarise the UK government’s conclusions from the consultation before considering the potential impact to digital health applications and companies.

Continue Reading AI and IP: Implications for digital health from possible reforms to UK IP law

At the end of 2020, the European Commission set out its vision to build a European Health Union with its announcement of the new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe (the new Strategy). As we discussed in a previous blog, the new Strategy seeks to introduce new policies and ideas, whilst bringing into the spotlight long standing challenges which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new Strategy puts forward numerous proposals for legislative reforms that are likely to affect the regulation of the entire life cycle of a medicinal product and the regulation of medical devices. As a reminder, the key elements of the new Strategy relate to innovation, availability, accessibility, affordability, and supply of medicinal products.

In this post, we focus on the developments in the first half of 2021, including a pilot project launched by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on market access and the Commission’s Roadmap on revisions to the pharmaceutical legislation.

Continue Reading Update on the European Commission’s proposed new pharmaceutical strategy

The day is finally here! Four years after it entered into force, the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) is applicable today, the 26 May 2021. We have discussed the aspirations and implications of the MDR, we have commented on the slow rate of implementation, and we have heard, and share, some of the frustration expressed by companies as they have prepared for today. From today, industry, regulatory bodies, external advisors and customers will be able to experience the consequences of the radical reform of the medical devices regulatory framework that has been introduced by the MDR.

We have published several blog posts on the key changes and progress of the implementation of the MDR. In this post, now the MDR is officially applicable, we briefly cover where we stand in relation to some of the issues and concerns for the industry. The European Commission recently said that “the 26th of May is not an end date” and we couldn’t agree more. While the MDR was focused on increasing patient safety and the oversight of devices, there is still a lot of work to be done, and there remains a number of outstanding questions. We believe there will need to be a great deal of flexibility by all parties over the coming months in other to avoid disruption for patients.

Continue Reading The EU Medical Devices Regulation applies today!

Earlier this month, the European Commission published an updated version of the 2011 Note on the handling of duplicate marketing authorisation applications for medicinal products (the 2011 Note). Following a long period of consultation and exchange with stakeholders and representatives from the EU Member States, the European Commission has sought to clarify the conditions under which applications for duplicate marketing authorisations will be assessed. In this blog post, we discuss the relevant changes, as well as the implications for the industry. Continue Reading European Commission publishes updated guidance for duplicate marketing authorisations

New EU rules under chemicals and waste legislation require manufacturers and suppliers of products to provide information to a centralized EU database.  These rules may also affect the medical devices industry.

SCIP database

Since 5 January 2021, a new obligation to notify the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) applies to suppliers of articles containing substances of very high concern (“SVHCs”) in a concentration above 0,1 % weight by weight (w/w). The obligation is established under the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (“WFD”) which cross-references Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (“the REACH Regulation”) and provides the basis for the creation of a new database collating information on “Substances of Concern In articles as such or in complex objects (Products)” (known as “the SCIP database”) to which notifications must be submitted under the supervision of ECHA (Article 9 of WFD).

According to ECHA, the aim of the new notification obligation is to ensure that information on SVHCs is available throughout the whole lifecycle of articles and materials, including the waste stage. SVHCs are hazardous substances (e.g., carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction) included in the Candidate List for authorisation of the REACH Regulation. Information submitted to the SCIP database will be accessible to national authorities, waste treatment facilities, supply chain operators and consumers. ECHA intends to publish the submitted information as received, unless the protection of confidential business information can be justified. Continue Reading EU Chemicals: Obligation to notify ECHA on hazardous substances and its impact on the medical devices industry

The UK’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has, together with the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), published the new Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry (the 2021 Code).  Publication of the 2021 Code follows a consultation conducted in 2020, with subsequent revisions prior to approval on 12 January 2021.

The 2021 Code will be implemented from 1 July 2021  and represents a significant structural revision of the current 2019 Code. It is described as the most extensive revision to the Code in over 30 years. There is no transition period for the new arrangements after 1 July 2021, other than for medical and educational goods and services (MEGS). The supplementary information to Clauses 20 and 23 sets out a 6 month period (until 31 December 2021) during which ongoing MEGS, provided under Clause 19 of the 2019 Code, may continue without the need to be reclassified as either a donation or collaborative working and comply with any new requirements as a result of this change.

Some of the key changes introduced through the  2021 Code are summarised below. Continue Reading New 2021 Code of Practice for the British Pharmaceutical Industry

On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Agreement). This was the result of many months of detailed negotiation within an increasingly difficult political environment. The final Agreement does not cover all of the aspects about which life sciences companies have been concerned, and there are areas that will likely be the subject of further discussion during the implementation of the Agreement. However, many view the Agreement as being an important first step in the UK’s continuing relationship with the EU. We set out below a summary of the key aspects of the Agreement relevant to life sciences companies.

Continue Reading The EU-UK Agreement and the implications for life sciences companies

As the end of the transition period draws near and new laws and regulations are set to come into effect at 11.00pm UK time on Implementation Period Completion Day (31 December 2020)[1], it is important to appreciate the impact of the changes to businesses navigate through a post-Brexit era. Once the UK is no longer part of the European single market, what will it mean for parallel trade and exhaustion of intellectual property (IP) rights when goods are exported out of the UK into the EU and vice versa. Continue Reading End of Brexit transition period: Exhaustion of Intellectual Property Rights and Parallel Trade in the UK and EU

As part of its vision to build a European Health Union, the European Commission announced the new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe (the new Strategy) on 25 November 2020. The new Strategy introduces new policies and ideas but also brings into the spotlight long standing challenges which were recently exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. The new Strategy puts forward numerous proposals for legislative reforms that are likely to affect the regulation of the entire life cycle of a medicinal product. Some of these revisions also affect the regulation of medical devices. The main elements of the new Strategy relate to innovation, availability, accessibility, affordability, and supply in relation to medicinal products.

In this post, we focus on the key proposed regulatory changes expected to impact the pharmaceutical industry. The post also discusses the implications of the new Strategy from the EU competition law perspective.

Continue Reading European Commission proposes a new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe