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. These laws, such as the rules on data protection and medical devices, have to be adapted to specific AI technologies and uses. They sometimes overlap, which can cause confusion for businesses trying to identify the relevant requirements that have to be met, or to reconcile potentially conflicting provisions.

As a step towards a clearer, more coherent approach, on 18 July, the UK government published a policy paper on regulating AI in the UK. The government proposes to establish a pro-innovation framework of principles for regulating AI, while leaving regulatory authorities discretion over how the principles apply in their respective sectors. The government intends the framework to be “proportionate, light-touch and forward-looking” to ensure that it can keep pace with developments in these technologies, and so that it can “support responsible innovation in AI – unleashing the full potential of new technologies, while keeping people safe and secure”. This balance is aimed at ensuring that the UK is at the forefront of such developments.

The government’s proposal is broadly in line with the MHRA’s current approach to the regulation of AI. In the MHRA’s response to the consultation on the medical devices regime in the UK post-Brexit, it announced similarly broad-brush plans for regulating AI-enabled medical devices. In particular, no definition of AI as a medical device (AIaMD) will be included in the new UK legislation, and the regime is unlikely to set out specific legal requirements beyond those being considered for software as a medical device. Instead, the MHRA intends to publish guidance that clinical performance evaluation methods should be used for assessing safety and meeting essential requirements of AIaMD, and has also published the Software and AI as a medical device change programme to provide a regulatory framework with s a high degree of protection for patients and public.

Continue Reading UK Policy Paper on regulation of AI

On 26 June 2022, the MHRA published the UK Government’s response to the consultation on the regulatory framework for medical devices in the UK (the Response), and following analysis of the nearly 900 responses received, its intentions for the future UK regulatory regime for medical devices (the UK Regulations).

In September 2021, we posted about the MHRA’s consultation, with a summary of the proposals set out across 15 technical chapters.  The consultation ran between September and November 2021, and focused on patient safety and innovation, whilst recognising that gaining and maintaining competitiveness in a global market will be best supported by aligning with internationally recognised best practice and standards.

We have considered the Response and set out some of the key factors we consider to be of particular interest below. We have not precisely follow the order in the Response and have not covered every aspect or changes; this is necessarily a high level summary.

While the approach the MHRA intends to take in the UK Regulations is clarified and set out in more detail in the Response, no draft statutory text has yet been published. A lot of detail will also be left to guidance that will accompany the UK Regulations. It will therefore be important to see how closely aligned the new UK framework is to the proposals described in the Response and with international rules and standards.

Continue Reading MHRA response to consultation on the regulation of medical devices

As of today, the 26 May 2022, the in vitro diagnostic Medical Devices Regulation (EU 2017/746) (IVDR) applies across the EU.

Those working in the industry will be aware that the implementation of the IVDR has been far from straightforward, and that there is still a lot of work to be done. In this post, we provide an overview of the current status of the transitional provisions, identify recently published guidance, and briefly consider the position in the UK and Switzerland.

Continue Reading The EU IVDR is here!

On 22 February 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) announced that it was issuing a proposed rule to align the Agency’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements for medical devices, codified at 21 C.F.R. Part 820 and known as the Quality System Regulation, with the international consensus standard ISO 13485:2016 (the ISO). This reflects a years-long effort by the Agency to better harmonise the U.S. requirements with that of many foreign regulators. For example, in the European Union, the ISO is listed in the EU legislation, meaning that a medical device that conforms to this standard is presumed to be in conformity with the EU regulatory requirements on quality management systems for medical devices. This harmonisation should, therefore, provide some consistency between jurisdictions and enable companies to streamline their processes between countries.

Continue Reading Harmonisation of international rules on medical device quality management systems

On 31 January 2022, Regulation (EU) 2022/123 on a reinforced role for the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) in crisis preparedness and management for medicinal products and medical devices was published in the Official Journal of the EU. This Regulation sets out a stronger role for the EMA in managing public health crises, and aims to formalise the ad-hoc structures and processes that have been used by the EMA during the COVID-19 pandemic. The intention is that these ad hoc process can now serve as a blueprint for a more harmonised EU response to future public health emergencies.

The reinforced role of the EMA is seen as an important development for the European Health Union. It aims to ensure that the EU is better prepared to manage future health crises by tackling shortages of medicines and medical devices more effectively and to develop medical countermeasures to address the threats posed to public health at an early stage and in a harmonised way. As part of this, the Regulation sets out important provisions on monitoring shortages of medicines and devices, and a greater role of the EMA in overseeing medical devices.

Continue Reading New EU Regulation Reinforcing the Role of the EMA

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

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada have recently published a joint statement identifying ten guiding principles to help inform the development of Good Machine Learning Practice (GMLP).  The purpose of these principles is to “help promote safe, effective, and high quality medical devices that use artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)”.

The development and use of medical devices that use AI and ML has grown considerably over the last few years and will continue to do so. It has been recognised that such technologies have the potential to transform the way in which healthcare is deployed globally, through the analyse of vast amounts of real-world data from which software algorithms can learn and improve. However, as these technologies become more complex and nuanced in their application, this brings into question how they should be overseen and regulated. Crucially, it must be ensured that such devices are safe and beneficial to those who use them, whilst recognising associated risks and limitations.

Continue Reading Ten International Guiding Principles on Good Machine Learning in Medical Devices

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 16 September, the MHRA published its long awaited consultation on the regulatory framework that will govern medical devices in the UK. This follows the publication in July of the MHRA Delivery Plan for 2021-2023, which made clear that the MHRA intends to “establish a new medical devices legislative framework for the UK to support safe innovation and ongoing access to products”.

The current framework for medical devices in the UK is set in the Medical Devices Regulation 2002, which implemented the EU Medical Devices Directives. However, the EU regime has now been substantially updated by the Medical Devices Regulations. Whilst the new Medical Device Regulations 2017/745 have been applicable in the EU since 26 May 2021, they do not apply in Great Britain and have not been implemented into UK law. The Regulations will, however, apply in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Similarly, the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulations 2017/746, due to apply in the EU from 26 May 2022, will not apply in Great Britain, but will apply in Norther Ireland.

The MHRA was heavily involved in the development of the new EU legislation and believed in the need to update the current Medical Device Directives and the UK Regulations. There have been concerns that as the updates to the EU regime do not apply in Great Britain, the UK may be seen as a less attractive country in which to develop and market medical devices, or that it does not protect patients to the same extent.

As such, the consultation focuses on patient safety and innovation (which are not mutually exclusive) whilst recognising that gaining and maintaining competitiveness in a global market will best be supported by alignment with internationally recognised best practice and standards, including greater alignment with the new EU Regulations.

Continue Reading Consultation on framework for medical devices in UK

The day is finally here! Four years after it entered into force, the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) is applicable today, the 26 May 2021. We have discussed the aspirations and implications of the MDR, we have commented on the slow rate of implementation, and we have heard, and share, some of the frustration expressed by companies as they have prepared for today. From today, industry, regulatory bodies, external advisors and customers will be able to experience the consequences of the radical reform of the medical devices regulatory framework that has been introduced by the MDR.

We have published several blog posts on the key changes and progress of the implementation of the MDR. In this post, now the MDR is officially applicable, we briefly cover where we stand in relation to some of the issues and concerns for the industry. The European Commission recently said that “the 26th of May is not an end date” and we couldn’t agree more. While the MDR was focused on increasing patient safety and the oversight of devices, there is still a lot of work to be done, and there remains a number of outstanding questions. We believe there will need to be a great deal of flexibility by all parties over the coming months in other to avoid disruption for patients.

Continue Reading The EU Medical Devices Regulation applies today!