This digest covers key virtual and digital health regulatory and public policy developments during March.

You will note that the EU institutions have been busy during March. On March 12, 2024, the European Parliament (EP) formally adopted the revised Product Liability Directive, which makes several important changes to the existing European Union (EU) product liability regime, including that software and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will now fall within the scope of a product. On March 13, 2024, the EP formally adopted the Artificial Intelligence Act, meaning the legislative process for the world’s first binding law on AI is nearing its conclusion. Finally, on March 15, 2024, the Council of the European Union and the EP reached a provisional agreement on the European Health Data Space (EHDS), which aims to improve access to health data electronically across the EU. Each of these important legislative provisions should shortly be finalized and will then become law in the EU.Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest, April 2024

On 5 April 2024, the MHRA updated various guidance documents on the impact of the Windsor Agreement (the Agreement) on parallel imports into and within the UK. Since the end of the Brexit transition period, EMA-issued parallel distribution notices (PDNs) ceased to be valid in Great Britain (GB). A PDN must be obtained by a parallel distributor prior to engaging in parallel distribution in the EU. In GB, PDNs were replaced by Parallel Import Licences (PLPIs), which allowed distribution of products in GB only; while PDNs continued to be valid in Northern Ireland (NI).

As of 1 January 2025, when the Agreement is due to take effect, PDNs will no longer be valid in NI. All parallel imports into GB and NI will require a PLPI from the MHRA that will apply across the whole UK, and any PLPIs that were previously limited to GB will automatically convert into UK-wide PLPIs from this date.Continue Reading Brexit update: Changes to parallel imports in the UK

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the pharmaceutical reform package following a debate on 10 April.

The vote is a key step in the passage of the new Directive and Regulation, which together form the EU’s revisions to the General Pharmaceutical Legislation (GPL). These revisions are part of the overall EU pharmaceutical strategy that was announced by the European Commission in November 2020, with the core GPL amendments proposals published in April 2023.

With the vote, the European Parliament has now endorsed the position adopted by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on 19 March 2024. The Committee had amended the Commission’s proposal in several respects. Overall, the Parliament’s amendments are aimed at encouraging and fostering more innovation in the EU, and industry will be pleased that some of its core concerns have been addressed, although significant areas of uncertainty remain.

The adoption of the package is likely to be delayed by the European Parliament elections in June this year. The reforms will be taken up by the new Parliament after the elections, and so it is difficult to see any agreement being reached before 2026.

Below is a summary of the Parliament’s position in some of the key area. This summary is, however, not exhaustive but rather highlights topics that have been subject to increased interest for industry and extensive discussions in the European Parliament.Continue Reading European Parliament backs reforms to the EU Regulatory Framework for Medicinal Products

This digest covers key virtual and digital health regulatory and public policy developments during February 2024.

Of note, the UK continues to pursue a “pro innovation” flexible approach to the regulation of AI. As outlined in the UK government’s response to the public consultation, the government will develop a set of core principles for regulating AI, while leaving regulatory authorities, like the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), discretion over how the principles apply in their respective sectors. A central governmental function will coordinate regulation across sectors and encourage collaboration. The government’s aim with this approach is to enable the UK to remain flexible to address the changing AI landscape, while being robust enough to address key concerns. This is in sharp contrast to the position in the EU, where the EU AI Act is reaching the conclusion of the legislative process.Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest, March 2024

A version of this article was first published in Life Sciences IP Review

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 that have to be adapted to specific AI technologies. As a step towards a more coherent approach, the government recently published its response to its consultation on regulating AI in the UK.  This maintains the government’s “pro-innovation” framework of principles, to be set out in guidance rather than legislation, which will then be implemented by regulatory authorities in their respective sectors, such as by the MHRA for medicines.  The MHRA has already started this process and signalled itself as an early-adopter of the UK government’s approach. The hope is that this will lead to investment in the UK by life science companies as the UK is seen as a first-launch country for innovative technologies.Continue Reading The UK’s pro-innovation approach to AI: What does this mean for life science companies?

On 23 January 2024, the European Commission announced proposals to amend the Medical Device Regulations (EU) 2017/745 (MDR) and the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Device Regulations (EU) 2017/746 (IVDR), as applicable, to:

  • extend the transition provisions for certain in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) under the IVDR
  • allow for a gradual roll-out of Eudamed so that certain modules will be mandatory from late 2025
  • include a notification obligation in case of interruption of supply

The proposal will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council before it enters into force. However, as the proposal follows a similar structure to the recent amendments to the MDR, we do not anticipate significant changes during the legislative process.Continue Reading Commission proposes extension to IVDR transition periods and accelerated launch of Eudamed

Thank you to all who joined us for our December 13 panel titled the “Race to Regulate.” In case you missed it, unpack this year’s pivotal legal challenges impacting the 2023 — and 2024 — digital legal landscape in our Year in Review Pocket Book. Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest, December 2023

Spurred, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for new ways to reach patients at home, 2023 saw a boom in digital technologies and healthcare solutions: one-stop-shop telemedicine platforms, app-based remote patient monitoring, direct-to-consumer online pharmacies, software-based medical devices, and artificial intelligence/machine learning to bolster delivery of telehealth services. Then came a robust government response. In the EU and UK, regulatory bodies grappled with the introduction of machine learning, AI, and other software into healthcare services by, for example, new guidance from the EU Medical Device Coordination Group and UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on software medical devices, the EU’s AI Act and the UK government’s AI White paper, the European Medicines Agency reflection paper on use of AI in the product lifecycle, the EU Data Privacy Framework and the equivalent UK-U.S. data bridge, and the European Health Data Space

We call this the “Race to Regulate.” This push-pull dynamic between digital health innovation and government regulation is key to evaluating regulatory risks in today’s shifting legal landscape. This digest seeks to keep up with these changes and provide you with an overview of the key guidelines and developments as the landscape develops. As we come to the end of 2023 and publish our latest Digest, join us on December 13 as we unpack pivotal moments in the 2023 Race to Regulate and discuss what’s next for virtual and digital health. Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest and webinar