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

Last week, the CJEU gave its decision in another procurement case in the healthcare area, Case C‑413/17 Roche Lietuva UAB. The case concerned the scope of technical specifications included as part of a tender by the Polyclinic for the Dainava District of Kaunas in Lithuania. The tender set out details of the medical diagnostic equipment and materials the authority wished to procure. Roche claimed that the specifications unreasonably restricted competition among suppliers due to their high specificity, and that in reality, the specifications corresponded to the products of certain manufacturers and excluded others.

The question referred to the Court concerned the limits to the margin of appreciation of a contracting authority to set out specifications in the tender, based on the quality of testing and the value of healthcare that it needs. The Court set out a useful summary of when technical specifications can be included in a tender and the principles for applying such specifications.


Continue Reading European Court clarifies use of technical specifications in healthcare tenders

Last week, the European Court of Justice gave its judgment on certain procurement questions relating to the supply of a radiopharmaceutical product, referred by the Italian Court in Case C-606/17, IBA Molecular Italy Srl. An Italian regional health authority and a public hospital were seeking to award a substantial contract to a private hospital, without conducting a public tender. They argued that as no direct consideration was provided to the hospital, and as the hospital was “classified” as part of the public healthcare system, any award constituted an agreement between public authorities to which EU law on public procurement does not apply. The European Court disagreed, and concluded that (i) public authorities cannot circumvent the EU procurement rules by awarding “funding” to an organisation in return for the provision of free products, and (ii) it was not possible to treat a “private” hospital as a public hospital in order to award contracts to them outside the EU procurement rules.

From the information available about the case, the answers to the questions referred seem straightforward and may be limited to the Italian system. However, it is nonetheless useful to have confirmation from the Court on the extent to which the provision of healthcare falls within the EU procurement regime.


Continue Reading European Court clarifies the application of procurement rules to healthcare

Yesterday, a new global medicines patent database, the Patent Information Initiative for Medicines (Pat-INFORMED), was launched by WIPO and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA).

Pat-INFORMED is designed to help procurement agencies better understand the global patent status of medicines, for example to anticipate generic launch and to design tenders. It includes a free open access database of patent information, and a platform where procurement agencies can make direct enquiries to companies.
Continue Reading New global database for drug patent information