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.