Orphan medicinal products

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the pharmaceutical reform package following a debate on 10 April.

The vote is a key step in the passage of the new Directive and Regulation, which together form the EU’s revisions to the General Pharmaceutical Legislation (GPL). These revisions are part of the overall EU pharmaceutical strategy that was announced by the European Commission in November 2020, with the core GPL amendments proposals published in April 2023.

With the vote, the European Parliament has now endorsed the position adopted by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on 19 March 2024. The Committee had amended the Commission’s proposal in several respects. Overall, the Parliament’s amendments are aimed at encouraging and fostering more innovation in the EU, and industry will be pleased that some of its core concerns have been addressed, although significant areas of uncertainty remain.

The adoption of the package is likely to be delayed by the European Parliament elections in June this year. The reforms will be taken up by the new Parliament after the elections, and so it is difficult to see any agreement being reached before 2026.

Below is a summary of the Parliament’s position in some of the key area. This summary is, however, not exhaustive but rather highlights topics that have been subject to increased interest for industry and extensive discussions in the European Parliament.Continue Reading European Parliament backs reforms to the EU Regulatory Framework for Medicinal Products

Today, 26 April 2023, the European Commission (the Commission) published its long-awaited proposed amendments to the EU regulatory framework for medicinal products (the Proposals). We set out the key takeaways from these Proposals in our Advisory.

This is the culmination of a number of years’ work by the Commission, starting with the new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe (the Strategy) announced on 25 November 2020. We set out a summary of and reasons behind the Strategy in a previous Advisory, noting that the Strategy sought to ensure a high level of public health by increasing the availability, accessibility, and affordability of medicinal products throughout the EU and harmonize the internal market.

To meet these goals, the Commission has proposed substantial changes to the EU regulatory system, via a new Directive that will replace Directive 2001/83 (medicinal products for human use), and a new Regulation that will replace Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 (authorization and supervision of medicinal products), Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 (orphan medicinal products), and Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 (pediatric medicines). The Proposals include changes to the regulatory protections available for medicinal products and orphan medicinal products and a new procedure relating to shortages of medicinal products. Continue Reading Proposed Amendments to the EU Regulatory Framework for Medicinal Products

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

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

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Yesterday, the EMA launched a new secure online portal called IRIS for the submission of applications for orphan designation and the management of post-designation activities. The aim is for the portal to be used for all activities relating to orphan designation, including applying for orphan designation, requesting pre-submission meetings, responding to requests for supplementary information and transferring orphan designation to a new sponsor. The hope is that this will provide a “comprehensive procedural and scientific support system for orphan designations”, and IRIS is being treated as a “pilot for [a] future Agency-wide platform for procedure management”.
Continue Reading Launch of the EMA’s Orphan Designation Portal

As reported in our previous post, at the end of last year, the European Commission published a draft amendment to Regulation No 847/2000 regarding the concept of “similar medicinal product” for the purposes of the Orphan Medicinal Products Regulation. Last week, the final Regulation was published: Regulation (EU) 2018/781. The new Regulation

On 22 March 2018, the European General Court handed down its judgment in Case T-80/16 Shire Pharmaceuticals Ireland v EMA.  Shire had sought annulment of the EMA’s decision refusing to validate its 2015 application for designation of its medicinal product Indursulfase-IT as an orphan medicinal product for the treatment of Hunter Syndrome. This decision is particularly important for innovator companies who invest in R&D for rare diseases, and will likely have an impact on incentivizing this type of research.

Background

In 2001, a Shire product containing the active substance idursulfase was designated as an orphan medicinal product for the treatment of Hunter Syndrome. This was followed in 2007 by the grant of a marketing authorisation for the medicinal product Elaprase, containing the active substance idursulfase, and administered as a solution for intravenous infusion. In parallel, Shire started developing another medicinal product containing the same active substance. However this product, Idursulfase-IT, could be delivered intrathecally, whereas Elaprase did not cross the blood-brain barrier. Intrathecal administration of the new product allowed treatment of cognitive disorders associated with a severe form of Hunter Syndrome.Continue Reading Shire v EMA: European General Court provides clarification for designation of orphan medicinal products

The European Commission has finally published the draft amendment to Regulation No 847/2000 regarding the concept of “similar medicinal product” for the purposes of the Orphan Medicinal Products Regulation. A key incentive of this Regulation is the ten-year market exclusivity that protects an orphan medicinal product, whereby national competent authorities shall not accept an application for authorisation, or grant an authorisation, or accept an application to extend an existing authorisation, “for the same therapeutic indication, in respect of a similar medicinal product” as the orphan product. Regulation 847/2000 defines “similar medicinal product” in this context, and sets out a number of examples of what kind of products will be similar.

Following a consultation last year, the Commission intends to make changes to the 17-year-old text to account for the rise of cell therapies and other advanced therapy medicinal products, the nature of which do not fit neatly into the current definitions.Continue Reading Draft Regulation amending definition of “similar medicinal product”