On 18 January, a new statutory instrument, the Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (the Amending Regulations), which amend the Human Medicines Regulations 2012,  was laid before Parliament.  These regulations will come into force on 9 February 2019.

The principal purpose of the amendments is to transpose into UK legislation the remaining provisions of Directive 2011/62/EU (the Falsified Medicines Directive), which require two new safety features to appear on the packaging of certain medicinal products, and the associated Commission Delegated Regulation 2016/161/EU (the Delegated Regulation), which sets out the details of these features. However, the Amending Regulations have also introduced an important new provision allowing for “serious shortage protocols” (SSPs) to be put in place for prescription-only medicines (POMs) in certain circumstances, and have extended the types of product containing naloxone (indicated for the treatment of opioid overdose) that drug treatment services may supply in an emergency.


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Article 118a of Directive 2001/83/EC requires Member States to lay down “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” penalties for those who are involved in the manufacturing, distribution, brokering, import and export of falsified medicinal products. On 26 January 2018, the European Commission published a report on how this requirement has been met by individual Member States, based on a detailed study performed by external contractors, empirica and  ZEIS, on behalf of the DG for Health and Food Safety.

The report indicated that 26 Member States had amended their legislation to accommodate new penalties for the falsification of medicinal products. The exceptions were Hungary, which changed its Criminal Code as a result of the Council of Europe Medicrime Convention, and Finland, which already had penalties in place before Article 118a took effect.

In 21 Member States, the manufacturing, distribution, brokering, import and export of falsified medicinal products attracts criminal penalties. In the remaining Member States (Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Romania, Poland, Sweden and Lithuania) only certain infringements are considered criminal.


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One of the obligations imposed on Member States under the Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU (FMD) is to put in place a medicines verification system by 9 February 2019. In the UK this is being managed by Securmed UK, a non-profit organisation established by the relevant supply chain stakeholders.

On 19 July 2017 Securmed UK announced that it had entered into a letter of intent with Arvato Systems GmbH to provide the IT platform that will underpin the UK’s medicines verification system. This represents a key milestone in the UK’s journey to meeting its obligations under the FMD and associated Delegated Regulation 2016/161.


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