Following a call for evidence in April 2022, the European Commission launched a public consultation in July 2022 seeking to revise the framework on compulsory licensing of patents in the EU. The general objective being to create a less fragmented and better-suited compulsory licensing system for EU-wide crises of a health, environmental, nuclear or industrial nature. Nevertheless, the consultation recognises that any system should remain exceptional and a last resort measure, applicable where voluntary agreements are not implemented, and bearing in mind that compulsory licensing may have a significant impact on IP holders. Continue Reading European Commission launches public consultation on compulsory licensing of patents

On 14 July 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on the safety and quality of substances of human origin (SoHO) intended for human application. When adopted, the proposed Regulation will repeal and replace the currently applicable Directive 2002/98/EC on blood (the Blood Directive) and Directive 2004/23/EC on tissues and cells (the Tissue and Cells Directive), with the aim of reforming and modernising the existing EU legislation. The proposal sets out requirements and standards for the safety and quality of blood, tissues, and cells (BTC), as well as other SoHOs, through a single instrument that will apply in all EU Member States in a (hopefully) harmonised manner.

This will be a major development for life sciences companies operating in the EU, including companies developing advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs, such as cell and gene therapies) manufactured from or using SoHOs. The Regulation will apply from donation to human application, unless the SoHOs are used in the manufacture of medicinal products or medical devices, in which case the Regulation will apply to donation, collection and testing of the substances only. A public consultation is open until 8 September 2022, and the proposal will also be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament. Once the final text is agreed and adopted, it will come into force, with the proposal setting out a 2-year or 3-year transition period depending on the provision.

Continue Reading EU Commission adopts Proposal for a Regulation on substances of human origin

There is currently no specific legislation in the UK that governs AI, or its use in healthcare. Instead, a number of general-purpose laws apply. These laws, such as the rules on data protection and medical devices, have to be adapted to specific AI technologies and uses. They sometimes overlap, which can cause confusion for businesses trying to identify the relevant requirements that have to be met, or to reconcile potentially conflicting provisions.

As a step towards a clearer, more coherent approach, on 18 July, the UK government published a policy paper on regulating AI in the UK. The government proposes to establish a pro-innovation framework of principles for regulating AI, while leaving regulatory authorities discretion over how the principles apply in their respective sectors. The government intends the framework to be “proportionate, light-touch and forward-looking” to ensure that it can keep pace with developments in these technologies, and so that it can “support responsible innovation in AI – unleashing the full potential of new technologies, while keeping people safe and secure”. This balance is aimed at ensuring that the UK is at the forefront of such developments.

The government’s proposal is broadly in line with the MHRA’s current approach to the regulation of AI. In the MHRA’s response to the consultation on the medical devices regime in the UK post-Brexit, it announced similarly broad-brush plans for regulating AI-enabled medical devices. In particular, no definition of AI as a medical device (AIaMD) will be included in the new UK legislation, and the regime is unlikely to set out specific legal requirements beyond those being considered for software as a medical device. Instead, the MHRA intends to publish guidance that clinical performance evaluation methods should be used for assessing safety and meeting essential requirements of AIaMD, and has also published the Software and AI as a medical device change programme to provide a regulatory framework with s a high degree of protection for patients and public.

Continue Reading UK Policy Paper on regulation of AI

On 26 June 2022, the MHRA published the UK Government’s response to the consultation on the regulatory framework for medical devices in the UK (the Response), and following analysis of the nearly 900 responses received, its intentions for the future UK regulatory regime for medical devices (the UK Regulations).

In September 2021, we posted about the MHRA’s consultation, with a summary of the proposals set out across 15 technical chapters.  The consultation ran between September and November 2021, and focused on patient safety and innovation, whilst recognising that gaining and maintaining competitiveness in a global market will be best supported by aligning with internationally recognised best practice and standards.

We have considered the Response and set out some of the key factors we consider to be of particular interest below. We have not precisely follow the order in the Response and have not covered every aspect or changes; this is necessarily a high level summary.

While the approach the MHRA intends to take in the UK Regulations is clarified and set out in more detail in the Response, no draft statutory text has yet been published. A lot of detail will also be left to guidance that will accompany the UK Regulations. It will therefore be important to see how closely aligned the new UK framework is to the proposals described in the Response and with international rules and standards.

Continue Reading MHRA response to consultation on the regulation of medical devices

In September 2021, we posted about the European Commission’s implementation of its new pharmaceutical strategy (which was also discussed in more detail in our posts on the strategyproposed amendments to orphan and paediatric legislation and the industry response). Readers will be aware that the focus of the Strategy is on the availability, accessibility and affordability of medicinal products, based on the view that current incentive models do not provide an adequate solution for unmet medical needs or appropriately incentivise investment in innovation. As part of its work on the revision of the EU pharmaceutical legislation, the European Commission launched a public consultation to seek views on the current framework and on some of the proposals for changes in order to support the European Commission’s impact assessment for the revision of the legislation.

Following this consultation, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) published an article entitled “Back Innovation, Boost Access” with its response to the EU pharmaceutical strategy consultations and some of the concerns raised by the Commission. This expresses EFPIA’s position that innovation is only meaningful if patients have access to it, but highlights that access is not always in the control of the pharmaceutical companies. It also describes the current status of access to medicines in the EU Member States, some of the reasons for the delays to access and EFPIA’s proposals to improve patient access to innovative medicines.

Continue Reading EFPIA’s Response to EU Pharmaceutical Strategy Consultations

On 4 January 2022, after approximately four years from the UK government’s first attempt to reform the UK national security screening regime, the National Security and Investment Act 2021 (NSIA) became operational. The NSIA represents a radical overhaul to investment screening in the UK as it introduces for the first time a mandatory and suspensory filing obligation for transactions in 17 sectors considered as particularly sensitive (among which are Synthetic Biology and Artificial Intelligence).

Alongside a mandatory and suspensory regime for certain transactions, parties are also encouraged to notify transactions voluntarily if—regardless of the sector concerned—the transaction might have national security implications based on (i) nature/identity of the acquirer, (ii) target’s activities, and/or (iii) nature and degree of control acquired. Unlike the mandatory filing obligation which only captures acquisition of entities, the voluntary regime also captures the acquisition of tangible and intangible assets—thereby including the acquisition, assignment and/or licensing of IP rights over e.g. molecules, compounds, methods or technologies.

Continue Reading The UK National Security and Investment Act 2021 (NSIA) – Implications for Life Sciences

As of today, the 26 May 2022, the in vitro diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (EU 2017/746) (IVDR) applies across the EU.

Those working in the industry will be aware that the implementation of the IVDR has been far from straightforward, and that there is still a lot of work to be done. In this post, we provide an overview of the current status of the transitional provisions, identify recently published guidance, and briefly consider the position in the UK and Switzerland.

Continue Reading The EU IVDR is here!

In December 2020, we posted about the MHRA’s draft guidance on randomised controlled trials generating real-world evidence (RWE) to support regulatory decisions. As we noted in our previous blog, although real-world data (RWD) are widely used to monitor the performance of medicines and devices in patients after regulatory approval, RWD have been utilised much less frequently to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a product at the stage of initial authorisation. The MHRA aims to provide sponsors with points to consider when planning to conduct clinical trials using RWD sources, and to provide information on the design of studies seeking to generate evidence suitable for supporting regulatory decisions. It is hoped that a greater use of RWD, and more uniform collection and use, will accelerate the availability of cost-effective treatments and reduce the time and cost currently required to generate relevant data.

Following a public consultation on the draft guidance, the MHRA issued its guidance at the end of last year in the form of two papers:

  1. An introduction to the RWD guideline series; and
  2. The first guideline in the series, on planning a prospective randomised controlled trial using RWD sources with the intention of using the trial data to support regulatory decisions.

The intention is for the MHRA to publish further guidelines in the series in due course.

Continue Reading Use of Real-World Evidence in the UK

Earlier this month, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation for the European Health Data Space (EHDS) aimed at regulating and facilitating electronic health data access and sharing across the European Union (the Proposal). The two main objectives of the EHDS are to (i) enable individuals to easily access and control their electronic health data; and (ii) allow researchers, innovators and policy makers to use electronic health data in a lawful, legitimate, trusted and secure way that preserves privacy and the fundamental rights of patients. Continue Reading EU Digital Health Policy: European Commission launches European Health Data Space

On 22 February 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) announced that it was issuing a proposed rule to align the Agency’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements for medical devices, codified at 21 C.F.R. Part 820 and known as the Quality System Regulation, with the international consensus standard ISO 13485:2016 (the ISO). This reflects a years-long effort by the Agency to better harmonise the U.S. requirements with that of many foreign regulators. For example, in the European Union, the ISO is listed in the EU legislation, meaning that a medical device that conforms to this standard is presumed to be in conformity with the EU regulatory requirements on quality management systems for medical devices. This harmonisation should, therefore, provide some consistency between jurisdictions and enable companies to streamline their processes between countries.

Continue Reading Harmonisation of international rules on medical device quality management systems