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

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

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