On 12 March, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Delegated Regulation to amend Regulation (EC) No 1234/2008 as regards the examination of variations to the terms of marketing authorisations for medicinal products for human use.

Scientific and technological advancements have led to a rise in the number of requests for variations to marketing authorisations (MA) and have brought the need to revise the variations procedure to make it more efficient and adaptable to change, in particular in relation to biological medicinal products, vaccines and medical devices.

The proposal aims to make the variations procedure simpler, clearer and more flexible to be able to respond to scientific and technological progress, and to reduce administrative burden.Continue Reading European Commission proposal to amend the Variation Regulation for Medicines

A version of this article was first published in Life Sciences IP Review

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 that have to be adapted to specific AI technologies. As a step towards a more coherent approach, the government recently published its response to its consultation on regulating AI in the UK.  This maintains the government’s “pro-innovation” framework of principles, to be set out in guidance rather than legislation, which will then be implemented by regulatory authorities in their respective sectors, such as by the MHRA for medicines.  The MHRA has already started this process and signalled itself as an early-adopter of the UK government’s approach. The hope is that this will lead to investment in the UK by life science companies as the UK is seen as a first-launch country for innovative technologies.Continue Reading The UK’s pro-innovation approach to AI: What does this mean for life science companies?

On 23 January 2024, the European Commission announced proposals to amend the Medical Device Regulations (EU) 2017/745 (MDR) and the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Device Regulations (EU) 2017/746 (IVDR), as applicable, to:

  • extend the transition provisions for certain in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) under the IVDR
  • allow for a gradual roll-out of Eudamed so that certain modules will be mandatory from late 2025
  • include a notification obligation in case of interruption of supply

The proposal will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council before it enters into force. However, as the proposal follows a similar structure to the recent amendments to the MDR, we do not anticipate significant changes during the legislative process.Continue Reading Commission proposes extension to IVDR transition periods and accelerated launch of Eudamed

In a previous blog post, we discussed the UK government’s proposed changes to the regulatory framework governing clinical trials. Marking the start of this legislative change is a new notification scheme for the lowest-risk clinical trials (the scheme), published on 12 October 2023. The scheme is based on the proposal set out in the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) consultation earlier this year, which was supported by 74% of respondents.

The scheme allows for the processing of eligible clinical trials by the MHRA in less than 14 days, instead of the statutory 30 days. The scheme currently only applies to clinical trial authorisation (CTA) applications for Phase 4 and certain Phase 3 clinical trials deemed as low risk, and provided they meet the MHRA’s eligibility criteria, set out below. Initial “first in human” Phase 1 or Phase 2 trials and clinical trial amendment applications will not be eligible.

The scheme aims to reduce the time taken to get lowest-risk clinical trials up and running, to give UK patients quicker access to potentially life-saving medicines, without undermining patient safety. The MHRA encourages clinical trial sponsors to use the scheme for all eligible trials and estimates that this will include 20% of UK initial clinical trial applications.Continue Reading UK clinical trials – new notification scheme for lowest-risk clinical trials

On 19 July 2023, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published a draft Reflection paper on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the lifecycle of medicines (the Paper). The Paper recognises the value of this technology as part of the digital transformation within healthcare, and acknowledges its increasing use and potential to “support the acquisition, transformation, analysis, and interpretation of data within the medicinal product lifecycle”, provided of course it is “used correctly”.

The Paper reflects EMA’s early experience with and considerations on the use of AI, and gives a sense of how EMA expects applicants and holders of marketing authorisations to use AI and machine learning (ML) tools. The EMA has made clear that the use of AI should comply with existing rules on data requirements as applicable to the particular function that the AI is undertaking. It is clear that any data generated by AI/ML will be closely scrutinised by the EMA, and a risk-based approach should be taken depending on the AI functionality and the use for which the data is generated.

The Paper is open for consultation until 31 December 2023. EMA also plans to hold a workshop on 20-21 November 2023 to further discuss the draft Paper. EMA’s plan is to use the feedback from the public consultation to finalise the Paper and produce future detailed guidance. Our summary below sets out the key takeaways and the key issues that arise in the Paper.Continue Reading EMA publishes first draft of reflection paper on the use of AI in the medicinal product lifecycle

At the beginning of July, the MHRA published its 2023 – 2026 Corporate Plan, which highlights, amongst many other topics, the importance of introducing new legislation and guidance on clinical trials in the UK to help provide the “stable and predictable regulatory environment that companies require”. The intention is that by 31 March 2026, the MHRA will implement a revised regulatory framework for clinical trials.

Work on a new clinical trial framework is already underway. On 21 March 2023, the MHRA published its response to the UK consultation (which ran from 17 January to 14 March 2022) on legislative proposals for changes to the law governing clinical trials, namely the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004.

Responses demonstrated strong support to update and improve the legislation governing clinical trials, with most respondents agreeing that patient safety should remain the focus of the legislation, but with a more flexible and risk proportionate approach to decision-making. In line with responses to other recent consultations, the MHRA is looking to align with international standards rather than be limited by alignment with the EU. It is hoped that the implementation of the proposals will make it easier and more efficient to run trials in the UK, enabling greater patient access to new, safe and life-changing treatments, while retaining the UK as an attractive place for trials.

In terms of next steps, the drafting of the statutory instrument to update the clinical trials legislation is expected to be laid before parliament in the Autumn of 2023. Comprehensive guidance will also accompany the legislation.Continue Reading Legislative change is afoot for clinical trials conducted in the UK

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 25 January 2023, the UK government published its response to the consultation on Point of Care (POC) manufacturing, described as personalised medicines made for the patient either within or very close to the healthcare setting. The joint consultation between the MHRA and the Northern Ireland Department of Health sought views on legislative proposals to introduce a new regulatory framework for the manufacture and supply of POC products. Those proposals were warmly received by stakeholders and steps will now be taken to introduce amendments to the legislative framework for POC manufacture and supply.Continue Reading MHRA consultation on medicines manufactured at the point of care

The procurement landscape in the UK is due to change next year. A draft procurement bill (Bill) seeks to consolidate a number of different procurement regulations that originate from EU legislation, including the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR), into a single revised regime. The aim is to modernise and unify procurement systems and processes into a single piece of legislation and to develop the regime specifically for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In addition to the Bill, a proposed Provider Selection Regime, introduced by regulations made under the Health and Care Act 2022, will create a new set of rules for arranging healthcare services in England, and take NHS healthcare services outside the scope of the Bill. That said, some services of relevance to the NHS may still fall under the Bill, in particular, the procurement of goods and medicines.

The aim of both the proposed Bill and the Provider Selection Regime is to give more flexibility to procurers to adapt the procurement process to the services and goods being procured, and to make it easier for the most suitable bidders to win the bid, while at the same time maintaining transparency. Neither the Bill nor the Provider Selection Regime apply in Scotland given that these are devolved matters and the pre-existing regime will remain in place there. Since the existing procurement regime originated in European law, there is currently little, if any, divergence between Scotland and the rest of the UK. The new changes will bring about the potential for divergence.

In this post, we have set out some key takeaways about the new procurement regime under the Bill and the proposed Provider Selection Regime.
Continue Reading Adoption of New Procurement Regulations in the UK

The MHRA is continuing to publish details on how software and AI medical devices will be regulated in the UK post Brexit, with the aim of making the UK an attractive place to launch such products. The MHRA’s recent updates to its ‘Software and AI as a Medical Device Change Programme’ (the Change Programme) intend to “deliver bold steps to provide a regulatory framework that provides a high degree of protection for patients and public, but also makes sure that the UK is recognised globally as a home of responsible innovation for medical device software looking towards a global market.

The MHRA has also recently announced it will extend the period during which EU CE marks on medical devices (including for software) will be accepted on the UK market, until July 2024.

We set out an overview of these updates below.Continue Reading Latest on software and AI devices from the MHRA