As we have previously reported, under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK, Northern Ireland (“NI”) has continued to follow the EU rules after the end of the transitional period. In contrast, Great Britain (“GB”) now has a freestanding independent regulatory regime. This means that there are two sets of rules that apply in the UK, and this has led to difficulties with medicines, and other products, moving from GB to NI (the route by which the majority of products reach the market in NI).

In December 2020, the European Commission published a notice that allowed certain flexibilities to be in place through 2021 to ensure there were no medicine shortages in NI (as well as other territories historically dependent on medicines supply through GB). As 2021 concluded, industry – and patients – had been concerned that no long-term solution had been found.

After protracted negotiations, on 17 December 2021, the European Commission put forward proposals to ensure the continued undisrupted supply of medicines from GB to NI. The proposals seek to ensure that patients in NI will have access to life-saving medicines at the same time as patients in the rest of the UK. These proposals also allow time to put in place long-term solutions for the supply of products to NI, and time for industry to adapt to future regulatory requirements and changes.

In parallel, legislation changes have been made in the UK, and the MHRA guidance has been, and is being, updated to reflect the proposals, although they are not yet formally adopted by the EU legislative bodies. Further, the MHRA has stated that there is a reporting obligation on industry to notify the MHRA if the flexibilities applicable to NI will not be used.

Continue Reading Brexit update: Supply of Medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

A lot has been happening in the world of medical devices over the last few months – we set out some key points below.

Progressive roll-out of the IVDR

As discussed in our previous blog, the European Commission published a proposal to delay the application of the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/746 (“IVDR”) by amending the transitional provisions for certain products. This was agreed by the European Parliament and the Council without any amendments to the Commission text. It has now been formally signed, and published in the Official Journal as Regulation (EU) 2022/112.

Continue Reading Update on the MDR and IVDR in the EU

Following increasing pressure from industry and patient groups alike, yesterday (14 October) the European Commission published its proposal to delay the application of the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/746 (IVDR) by amending the transitional provisions for certain products. The Commission noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the capacity of Member States, health institutions and companies to comply with the new requirements in time for the current deadline of May 2022, and that the “serious shortage of notified body capacity, mak[es] it impossible for manufacturers to conduct the legally required conformity assessment procedures in time”. As such, the proposal provides industry and patients some much needed relief, and aims to avoid a large number of products that are already on the market being discontinued in May due to non-compliance.

While the proposal still needs to go through the EU legislative procedure, it seems likely that the amendment will be adopted before the current date of application of May 2022. It is also important to note that the delay does not apply uniformly to all IVDs, as set out below.

Continue Reading European Commission proposal to delay application of In Vitro Diagnostics Regulation

On 28 September 2021, the European Commission took another step in the implementation of its  new pharmaceutical strategy (discussed in more detail in our previous blog posts on the strategy, proposed amendments to orphan and paediatric legislation and the industry response).

As part of its work on the revision of the EU pharmaceutical legislation, the Commission launched a dedicated public consultation. The purpose of this consultation is to gather views and information to support the Commission’s impact assessment for the revision of the EU pharmaceutical legislation. This is, therefore, a good opportunity for all stakeholders to share their views and concerns, as well as their vision for the future EU pharmaceutical legislation.

The consultation is open until 21 December 2021 and seeks the views of all stakeholders on key issues such as:

Continue Reading European Commission launches consultation on reform of EU pharmaceutical legislation

We discussed in previous posts the Commission’s announcement at the end of 2020 of its new pharmaceutical strategy for the EU. One topic 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.  We have previously discussed recent consultations and stakeholder engagements by the Commission to explore possible changes to the legislative regime in these areas, including the possibility of reducing the ten-year market exclusivity period for orphan medicines and changing the criteria for determining the rarity of a disease.

Following the responses to these consultations, in May 2021, the Commission launched its latest public Consultation on the proposed revisions to the legislation.  The Commission’s statement accompanying the launch asserts that its evaluation “revealed shortcomings in the current system concerning in particular the development of medicines in areas of high unmet need for patients and their accessibility to all EU patients across the Member States.” Industry bodies representing the innovative pharmaceutical industry have now published their responses to the Consultation, as summarised below.
Continue Reading Industry’s response to the Commission’s proposed amendments to the EU orphan and paediatric legislation

On 7 July 2021, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted the final version of its guidelines 07/2021 on the concepts of controller and processor in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Guidelines), following a period of public consultation regarding the first draft of the Guidelines (about which we reported in an earlier blogpost). As discussed below, the final Guidelines have considerable significance for the life sciences sector.

Another key GDPR development that is directly relevant for the life sciences sector and international transfers of personal health data (e.g., conduct of cross-border clinical trials) is the adoption of the new version of the standard contractual clauses (New SCCs) published by the European Commission (EC) on 4 June 2021. The second part of this blogpost outlines some key takeaways of the New SCCs. (We provide a more detailed analysis of the design, scope and main content of the New SCCs in our related advisory.)

Continue Reading Recent GDPR developments relevant for the life sciences sector

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

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

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