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. These laws, such as the rules on data protection and medical devices, have to be adapted to specific AI technologies and uses. They sometimes overlap, which can cause confusion for businesses trying to identify the relevant requirements that have to be met, or to reconcile potentially conflicting provisions.

As a step towards a clearer, more coherent approach, on 18 July, the UK government published a policy paper on regulating AI in the UK. The government proposes to establish a pro-innovation framework of principles for regulating AI, while leaving regulatory authorities discretion over how the principles apply in their respective sectors. The government intends the framework to be “proportionate, light-touch and forward-looking” to ensure that it can keep pace with developments in these technologies, and so that it can “support responsible innovation in AI – unleashing the full potential of new technologies, while keeping people safe and secure”. This balance is aimed at ensuring that the UK is at the forefront of such developments.

The government’s proposal is broadly in line with the MHRA’s current approach to the regulation of AI. In the MHRA’s response to the consultation on the medical devices regime in the UK post-Brexit, it announced similarly broad-brush plans for regulating AI-enabled medical devices. In particular, no definition of AI as a medical device (AIaMD) will be included in the new UK legislation, and the regime is unlikely to set out specific legal requirements beyond those being considered for software as a medical device. Instead, the MHRA intends to publish guidance that clinical performance evaluation methods should be used for assessing safety and meeting essential requirements of AIaMD, and has also published the Software and AI as a medical device change programme to provide a regulatory framework with s a high degree of protection for patients and public.

Continue Reading UK Policy Paper on regulation of AI

On 26 June 2022, the MHRA published the UK Government’s response to the consultation on the regulatory framework for medical devices in the UK (the Response), and following analysis of the nearly 900 responses received, its intentions for the future UK regulatory regime for medical devices (the UK Regulations).

In September 2021, we posted about the MHRA’s consultation, with a summary of the proposals set out across 15 technical chapters.  The consultation ran between September and November 2021, and focused on patient safety and innovation, whilst recognising that gaining and maintaining competitiveness in a global market will be best supported by aligning with internationally recognised best practice and standards.

We have considered the Response and set out some of the key factors we consider to be of particular interest below. We have not precisely follow the order in the Response and have not covered every aspect or changes; this is necessarily a high level summary.

While the approach the MHRA intends to take in the UK Regulations is clarified and set out in more detail in the Response, no draft statutory text has yet been published. A lot of detail will also be left to guidance that will accompany the UK Regulations. It will therefore be important to see how closely aligned the new UK framework is to the proposals described in the Response and with international rules and standards.

Continue Reading MHRA response to consultation on the regulation of medical devices

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada have recently published a joint statement identifying ten guiding principles to help inform the development of Good Machine Learning Practice (GMLP).  The purpose of these principles is to “help promote safe, effective, and high quality medical devices that use artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)”.

The development and use of medical devices that use AI and ML has grown considerably over the last few years and will continue to do so. It has been recognised that such technologies have the potential to transform the way in which healthcare is deployed globally, through the analyse of vast amounts of real-world data from which software algorithms can learn and improve. However, as these technologies become more complex and nuanced in their application, this brings into question how they should be overseen and regulated. Crucially, it must be ensured that such devices are safe and beneficial to those who use them, whilst recognising associated risks and limitations.

Continue Reading Ten International Guiding Principles on Good Machine Learning in Medical Devices

On 16 September, the MHRA published its long awaited consultation on the regulatory framework that will govern medical devices in the UK. This follows the publication in July of the MHRA Delivery Plan for 2021-2023, which made clear that the MHRA intends to “establish a new medical devices legislative framework for the UK to support safe innovation and ongoing access to products”.

The current framework for medical devices in the UK is set in the Medical Devices Regulation 2002, which implemented the EU Medical Devices Directives. However, the EU regime has now been substantially updated by the Medical Devices Regulations. Whilst the new Medical Device Regulations 2017/745 have been applicable in the EU since 26 May 2021, they do not apply in Great Britain and have not been implemented into UK law. The Regulations will, however, apply in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Similarly, the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulations 2017/746, due to apply in the EU from 26 May 2022, will not apply in Great Britain, but will apply in Norther Ireland.

The MHRA was heavily involved in the development of the new EU legislation and believed in the need to update the current Medical Device Directives and the UK Regulations. There have been concerns that as the updates to the EU regime do not apply in Great Britain, the UK may be seen as a less attractive country in which to develop and market medical devices, or that it does not protect patients to the same extent.

As such, the consultation focuses on patient safety and innovation (which are not mutually exclusive) whilst recognising that gaining and maintaining competitiveness in a global market will best be supported by alignment with internationally recognised best practice and standards, including greater alignment with the new EU Regulations.

Continue Reading Consultation on framework for medical devices in UK

The UK MHRA has issued draft guidance on randomised controlled trials generating real-world evidence (RWE) that is used to support regulatory decisions. It is intended to be the first in a series of guidance documents addressing RWE. The guidance is part of the MHRA’s push to reinforce the view of the MHRA as a pro-innovative regulatory authority, and that the UK is a leading country in which to conduct clinical research, post-Brexit.

Continue Reading UK MHRA consultation on real-world evidence

On 12 October 2018, the MHRA issued Guidance for products without an intended medical purpose (Annex XVI) under the new Medical Device Regulation (EU 2017/745) providing guidance on the expansion of scope of the medical devices regime to include certain products which had been previously unregulated at EU level.

Article 1(2) of the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR), in force from 25 May 2017, explains that the MDR will regulate “certain groups of products without an intended medical purpose” as though they were medical devices.

There are currently six types of products in this category which are listed at Annex XVI of the MDR.

Continue Reading New MHRA guidance on non-medical devices