This digest covers key virtual and digital health regulatory and public policy developments during May and early June 2024 from United Kingdom, and European Union.

Of interest, artificial intelligence (AI) safety has been in focus over the past month, including with the publication of the Interim International Scientific Report on the Safety of Advanced AI. International collaboration in this area is increasing as world leaders met at the AI Summit in Seoul, and the UK government recently announced a collaboration on AI safety with Canada, supplementing its existing commitment with France. Further, the UK launched the AI safety evaluations platform, which is available to the global community. In the meantime, the EU has established an AI Office to oversee the implementation of the AI Act and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published its AI Airlock to address novel challenges in the regulation of artificial intelligence medical devices (AIaMD).Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest – June 2024

This digest covers key virtual and digital health regulatory and public policy developments during April and early May 2024.

You will note that France has set out new pricing rates for innovative digital therapeutic medical devices under the accelerated market access pathway, known as PECAN. While the pathway was set out in February 2023, the lack of reimbursement rates means up-take has been low. The order of April 22, 2024 introduces the new pricing structure, with the maximum amount of financial compensation set at €780 per year, per patient. This is an important step in ensuring digital therapeutic products can be widely available in France while also ensuring that developers can obtain appropriate reimbursement.Continue Reading Virtual and Digital Health Digest, May 2024

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published its strategic approach to artificial intelligence (AI). The publication is in response to the request from the Secretaries of State of DSIT and DHSC dated 1 February 2024, in which the MHRA was asked to provide details about what steps it is taking in accordance with the principles and expectations of the Government’s pro-innovation approach set out in the white paper published in 2023. Further information is set out in our previous post.

The strategy provides information on how the MHRA views the risks and opportunities of AI from three perspectives:

  • MHRA as a regulator of AI products
  • MHRA as a public service organisation delivering time-critical decisions
  • MHRA as an organisation that makes evidence-based decisions that impact on public and patient safety, where that evidence is often supplied by third parties

The document is likely to be of particular interest to AIaMD manufacturers as it sets out in detail current and proposed regulations and guidance, and areas where this is likely to be tightened. Following the launch of the strategic approach, the government also published details of the AI Airlock regulatory sandbox, discussed in another post.

With a raft of measures relating to AI being published and additional measures expected in the next couple of years, pharmaceutical and medical device companies operating in the UK need to continually review how they will be impacted and respond appropriately.Continue Reading MHRA sets out its AI regulatory strategy

In our blog post on 22 February 2024 we reported on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announcement that it intended to launch a regulatory sandbox for software and AI medical devices called the “AI-Airlock”. The pilot project went live on 9 May 2024, and government sources are citing it as a key component of the MHRA’s strategic approach to AI, published on 30 April 2024 (discussed in a separate post).Continue Reading The MHRA’s “AI Airlock” – what do you need to know?

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 20 March, the Commission proposed several measures intending to boost technology and biomanufacturing in the EU, including the Commission Communication Building the future with nature: Boosting Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing in the EU; and Questions & Answers on the Commission Communication.

The Communication, while directed towards the broader biotech sector, refers to the aim to have a resilient EU biotech ecosystem to safeguard the supply of innovative and generic medicines. It recognizes the significance of vaccine and mRNA technology research for cancer, cardiovascular infectious, and rare diseases, as well as the role of AI in personalized healthcare and diagnostics, including generative AI for medicines discovery and complex genetic diseases.

At the same time, it acknowledges the challenges found in the biotech sector in the EU due to complex regulatory obstacles both nationally and at EU level; or the uncertainty over the return of their investments. Continue Reading Commission Communication on biotechnology and biomanufacturing

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?

The end of 2023 featured two significant judgments concerning AI inventions: (i) a highly awaited decision from the Supreme Court in Thaler on the ability of AI systems to be named inventors of patents; and (ii) a decision from the High Court in Emotional Perception considering the application of the computer program exclusion in the UK, leading to prompt changes in patent examination practices by the UKIPO. The Thaler decision was unsurprising and consistent with decisions in other jurisdictions. Consequently, this article focuses on the second of these judgments, especially as Emotional Perception could have ramifications for life sciences companies utilising artificial neural networks (ANN); inventions using ANNs will no longer be excluded from patentability on the basis that it engages the computer program exclusion to patentability in the UK.Continue Reading Landmark UK High Court decision makes it easier to patent AI-related inventions that utilise ANNs