With much fanfare, in January 2023, the European Commission released its proposal to extend the MDR transition periods and abolish the ‘sell-off’ deadline, after which medical devices and in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) would have to be withdrawn from the EU and EEA market. Today, the proposal has been adopted via Regulation 2023/607 (the Regulation), and will come into force today, 20 March 2023. This date is now important, as CE certificates that expired before today may be able to be considered as valid if certain conditions are met. Certificates that expire from today until the new transition periods will be considered as valid if the conditions set out below are met. This provides important breathing space for companies and should ensure that a large number of devices are not withdrawn from the market over the next year.

Continue Reading Extension to EU MDR transition periods finalised

On 27 February 2023, an agreement in principle was reached by the UK and EU, known as the Windsor Agreement, relating to post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland (NI). The principles are expected to be approved shortly by the EU-UK Joint Committee. The UK Government and the EU institutions will then enact legislative measures to make the necessary amendments to their laws. 

Following Brexit, from 31 January 2020, the UK is no longer subject to EU single-market rules or the EU legislative framework. However, under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, NI continues to follow EU rules. This is to avoid customs checks between NI and the Republic of Ireland. In practice, this means that medicinal products on the market in NI must be authorised in line with the EU regime, which no longer applies in Great Britain. This causes difficulties for companies marketing their products in the UK, as different authorisations, following different rules, apply in different parts of the UK. It also means that patients have access to different products in GB or NI.

The current agreement covers a number of sectors, and in relation to medicines, the aim is to simplify supply between GB and NI, and ensure that only one authorisation is needed and one set of rules needs to be followed within the UK. However, much detail still needs to be published so that companies can fully understand the impact of the changes on their medicines supply chains.

Continue Reading The Windsor Agreement and supply of medicinal products in Northern Ireland

Following a call for evidence in April 2022, the European Commission launched a public consultation in July 2022 seeking to revise the framework on compulsory licensing of patents in the EU. The general objective being to create a less fragmented and better-suited compulsory licensing system for EU-wide crises of a health, environmental, nuclear or industrial nature. Nevertheless, the consultation recognises that any system should remain exceptional and a last resort measure, applicable where voluntary agreements are not implemented, and bearing in mind that compulsory licensing may have a significant impact on IP holders.
Continue Reading European Commission launches public consultation on compulsory licensing of patents

On 14 July 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on the safety and quality of substances of human origin (SoHO) intended for human application. When adopted, the proposed Regulation will repeal and replace the currently applicable Directive 2002/98/EC on blood (the Blood Directive) and Directive 2004/23/EC on tissues and cells (the Tissue and Cells Directive), with the aim of reforming and modernising the existing EU legislation. The proposal sets out requirements and standards for the safety and quality of blood, tissues, and cells (BTC), as well as other SoHOs, through a single instrument that will apply in all EU Member States in a (hopefully) harmonised manner.

This will be a major development for life sciences companies operating in the EU, including companies developing advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs, such as cell and gene therapies) manufactured from or using SoHOs. The Regulation will apply from donation to human application, unless the SoHOs are used in the manufacture of medicinal products or medical devices, in which case the Regulation will apply to donation, collection and testing of the substances only. A public consultation is open until 8 September 2022, and the proposal will also be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament. Once the final text is agreed and adopted, it will come into force, with the proposal setting out a 2-year or 3-year transition period depending on the provision.

Continue Reading EU Commission adopts Proposal for a Regulation on substances of human origin

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