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

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

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

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). As we discussed in a previous blog, the new Strategy seeks to introduce new policies and ideas, whilst bringing into the spotlight long standing challenges which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new Strategy puts forward numerous proposals for legislative reforms that are likely to affect the regulation of the entire life cycle of a medicinal product and the regulation of medical devices. As a reminder, the key elements of the new Strategy relate to innovation, availability, accessibility, affordability, and supply of medicinal products.

In this post, we focus on the developments in the first half of 2021, including a pilot project launched by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on market access and the Commission’s Roadmap on revisions to the pharmaceutical legislation.

Continue Reading Update on the European Commission’s proposed new pharmaceutical strategy

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!

Earlier this month, the European Commission published an updated version of the 2011 Note on the handling of duplicate marketing authorisation applications for medicinal products (the 2011 Note). Following a long period of consultation and exchange with stakeholders and representatives from the EU Member States, the European Commission has sought to clarify the conditions under which applications for duplicate marketing authorisations will be assessed. In this blog post, we discuss the relevant changes, as well as the implications for the industry.
Continue Reading European Commission publishes updated guidance for duplicate marketing authorisations

On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Agreement). This was the result of many months of detailed negotiation within an increasingly difficult political environment. The final Agreement does not cover all of the aspects about which life sciences companies have been concerned, and there are areas that will likely be the subject of further discussion during the implementation of the Agreement. However, many view the Agreement as being an important first step in the UK’s continuing relationship with the EU. We set out below a summary of the key aspects of the Agreement relevant to life sciences companies.

Continue Reading The EU-UK Agreement and the implications for life sciences companies