Photo of Bart Van Vooren

Bart Van Vooren has a broad life sciences practice supporting innovative pharmaceutical, food, medtech and biotech companies on EU regulatory, commercial and strategic policy assignments. He is widely recognized for his expertise on general EU law and procedure, as well as his extensive litigation experience before the EU Court of Justice in dozens of cases.

Over the past seven years, Mr. Van Vooren has developed a niche practice on compliance with the Biodiversity Convention and the Nagoya Protocol, a set of rules to combat bio-piracy worldwide. He has accumulated unique, practical experience in dozens of jurisdictions around the world, and has handled everything from benefit-sharing negotiations, over compliance programs, to inspections by authorities.

Finally, Mr. Van Vooren has an active pro bono practice assisting NGOs defending the human rights of persons with a disability through strategic litigation.

On 6 May 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (“EFSA”) published its updated safety assessment on titanium dioxide as a food additive (E171). EFSA examined new evidence on nanoparticles and found that there was uncertainty about E171’s ability to accumulate in the body and damage genetic material in cells; i.e. genotoxicity. The agency could not

On 1 July 2021, the new French rules on early access to unauthorized medicinal products and off-label use of authorized medicinal products entered into force.  The rules were introduced by the Social Security Financing Law for 2021 (LOI n° 2020-1576 du 14 décembre 2020 de financement de la sécurité sociale pour 2021 or “LFSS 2021”, available here).  The reform seeks to simplify existing rules, make early access and off-label use more predictable for all users, and ensure the sustainability of these programs for the public health insurance system.  In this blog, we present an overview of the new rules.

Continue Reading New Early Access and Off-Label Use Rules in France

On May 24, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it singed an MoU with Switzerland to host the WHO’s first BioHub Facility, which is part of the new BioHub System first announced at the World Health Assembly in November 2020.

The stated purpose of the WHO BioHub is to set up a system that guarantees the timely sharing of biological material (e.g., clinical samples, specimens, isolates, cultures) for emerging pathogens, so as to ensure their faster identification and characterization and enable risk assessments and the rapid development of countermeasures (e.g., vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics).
Continue Reading WHO Launches Global BioHub for Pathogen Sharing

On March 4, 2021, Brazil deposited with the United Nations its ratification of the Nagoya Protocol (“Protocol”) (see here the announcement of Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs).  This represents Brazil’s formal commitment to be bound by the Protocol.

On August 6, 2020, the Brazilian Senate passed a Decree that ratifies the Nagoya Protocol. The Protocol complements Brazil’s existing access and benefit sharing rules relating to Brazil’s genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge (“ABS Framework”).  One important effect of this ratification is that other countries parties to the Protocol will have to ensure that users of Brazilian genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge comply with the Brazilian ABS Framework.  However, the inverse is also true.  Brazil will need to ensure that Brazilian users of foreign genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge comply with the access and benefit sharing regime of the country of origin.
Continue Reading Brazil Ratifies the Nagoya Protocol

On January 30, 2021, the European Commission published the Regulation establishing an export authorization and notification scheme relating to COVID-19 vaccines and their active substances.  It applies “for a limited duration” to COVID-19 vaccines covered by Advanced Purchased Agreements (“APAs”) concluded with the Union.  As regards APAs contracted by third countries, “the Commission will endeavour that the expectations of these countries to obtain their deliveries will be met as much as possible.”  This post briefly outlines the key elements of the export authorization and notification scheme that require further scrutiny.

Continue Reading EU Adopts Export Authorization Scheme for COVID-19 Vaccines and their Active Substances

On 13 December 2020, Belgium amended its rules regarding compassionate use and medical need programs to confirm that authorized programs can continue to operate after the marketing authorization for the concerned product has been granted but while the decision on reimbursement is still pending.

The Law of 25 March 1964 (“Medicines Law”) regulates the use of medicinal products that have not (yet) received a marketing authorization (“compassionate use”, “CU”) and for off-label use (“medical need”, “MNP”). The Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (“FAMHP”) must grant an authorization to allow the use of medicinal products in a compassionate or medical need context
Continue Reading Belgium Amends Compassionate Use and Medical Need Program Rules to Expand Access

On 11 November 2020, the European Commission has announced a range of proposals to build a European Health Union.  The proposed measures reflect on the learnings from the current COVID-19 and previous influenza pandemics and seek to enhance Member States’ preparedness for future health crises, which also includes a greater involvement of the EU.  As part of its set of measures, the Commission is proposing to revise the current EU joint procurement framework.

  1. Current Joint Procurement Framework

In 2010, as part of its “lessons learnt from the A/H1N1 pandemic”, the European Council called for the development of a joint procurement framework for vaccines and antiviral medication.  Subsequently, the European Parliament and Council adopted Decision 1082/2013/EU (the “Decision”) on serious cross-border threats to health, which, among others, provides that the EU and any interested Member States may conduct a joint procurement procedure.  The detailed procedure was then agreed between the Commission and the Member States in the Joint Procurement Agreement (the “JPA”).
Continue Reading European Health Union: European Commission proposes Changes to the Joint Procurement Agreement

Today, October 1st 2020, the updated anti-gift scheme in France enters into force.  The anti-gift rules impose obligations on pharmaceutical, medical device and cosmetics companies when interacting with healthcare professionals (“HCPs”) and healthcare organizations (“HCOs”) in France.  The updated framework was foreseen in the adoption of Ordinance 2017-49 of 19 January 2017 and Decree 2020-730 of 15 June 2020.  This blog summarizes the new French rules.

Continue Reading Entry Into Force of Reinforced Anti-gift Rules in France

On 9 July 2020, Advocate General Bobek delivered his opinion on the status of edible insects (e.g., mealworms, locusts, and crickets) under the EU novel foods rules.  While insects fall under the scope of the new EU Novel Food Regulation 2015/2283, the opinion recommends the Court of Justice to deny novel food status to such ingredients under the old legal regime of now repealed Regulation 258/97. 
Continue Reading Advocate General delivers Opinion on Novel Food Status of Insects

As previously reported on this blog, on 1 April 2020 Belgium adopted a complete ban on exports of certain medicines and raw materials to non-EEA countries to avoid shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. On 8 April 2020, Belgium reversed this ban, and instead installed a system of export controls. Coincidentally or not, the