On January 17, 2024, the European Parliament formally endorsed its provisional agreement with the Council on the Directive Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition through Better Protection against Unfair Practices and Better Information (“Greenwashing Directive”). The Council is now expected to endorse the provisional agreement after which the Directive will be published in
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.
Today, the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) finished the preparatory session for the draft International Legal Instrument Relating to Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources (the “Instrument”), which will be discussed and adopted at a diplomatic conference in 2024.
At the heart of the Instrument is…
By May 2024, the 194 countries of the World Health Organization (“WHO”) aim to finalize negotiations on a new international treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (“Pandemic Accord”). At the center of the negotiations is the contentious issue of Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing (“P-ABS”). In this blog we…
We won Case T-201/21 Covington & Van Vooren vs European Commission. But why did we litigate? Why did we ask to see how the member states voted on an EU implementing act? A short background story, worth a few minutes of your time if interested in the EU as a democracy…
On 19 June 2023, after almost 20 years of negotiations, the United Nations (“UN”) member states adopted a landmark treaty to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (the “BBNJ” treaty).
One of the cornerstones of the BBNJ treaty is the creation of a…
“Delays in clinical trials result in delays of potentially life-saving treatments”
The European Commission is streamlining the rules for clinical trials of medicines consisting of, or containing genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”). Under the current EU GMO framework, getting authorization for clinical trials of GMO medicines is a long and costly process. Industry groups have vocally criticized it; and the Commission itself has voiced the need for change.
The Commission proposes a single, centralized application for clinical trials of GMO medicines. The sponsor will include a detailed environmental risk assessment with the application. In turn, the Commission will exempt clinical trials from the scope of many GMO rules. The new system will be leaner, greener and will get potentially life-saving treatments to patients with less administrative delay.
The changes are part of the EU’s new package of revisions to the bloc’s common pharmaceutical regime, set out in a draft Regulation and a draft Directive, published by the Commission on 26 April 2023. The new GMO medicines rules are just one part of a range of environment‑focused reforms to EU pharmaceutical law set out in the proposals — for more information, see our post here.Continue Reading EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: GMO Medicines
Pharmaceutical companies take note: the EU plans to refuse marketing authorizations for environmentally-unfriendly medicines.
The EU has published a package of revisions to the bloc’s common pharmaceutical regime. Many revisions aim to reduce the environmental impact of human medicinal products. The key environmental measures include:
- Pre-authorization — Environment-related refusals: The European authorities will be able to refuse a marketing authorization application where the accompanying Environmental Risk Assessment (“ERA”) is not adequate, or if the environmental risks have not been sufficiently addressed.
- Post-authorization — Environment-related monitoring and conditions of use: The European authorities will be able to impose environment‑related conditions of use on authorized medicines, including limiting the product to prescription-only or requiring additional post-authorization ERAs. They will also be able to suspend, revoke or vary marketing authorizations where a medicine presents a serious risk to the environment.
- Awareness and knowledge building — Warnings and environmental risk databases: Companies will be required to include additional information on environmental impact in a medicine’s EPAR, and additional awareness‑raising information in the product packaging of antimicrobials.
In this post, we lay out what pharmaceutical companies need to know about the key environmental measures.Continue Reading EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: Addressing Environmental Risks
Those in the business of fast‑moving consumer goods (“FMCGs”) are likely aware of the plethora of environmental and product stewardship regulations applicable to the FMCG sector. These laws are set to increase and expand in application. What FMCG companies also need to get to grips with are a range of broader (and also fast‑moving!) environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) developments and consequent risks and opportunities. Companies need to understand how the new world of ESG impacts their supply chains, key ingredients and components, consumer choice and confidence, competitive advantage, market accessibility, and marketing.
Designed as a ‘primer’ for FMCG companies, in this piece, we cover a range of key trends in the emerging UK and EU ESG legal landscape as relevant for the FMCG sector, from farmers to Food Business Operators (“FBOs”) and from manufacturers to retailers. We also discuss some key legal and reputational risks; as well as pointers to help companies decipher and prepare for the ESG storm.
We focus on the UK and the EU (first movers on many ESG issues), but the landscape in other jurisdictions (including, for example, the US) is also evolving and becoming more complex.
Key ESG Issues for FMCGs
We think there are four categories of key ESG developments for FMCGs to watch: (I) corporate reporting and disclosure regimes; (II) green/sustainability claims and labelling; (III) supply chain obligations; and (IV) product packaging and presentation.
Many emerging ESG frameworks cut across sectors. This may be efficient for regulators, but can make identifying sector-specific risks and opportunities more challenging. We have sought to do that below.Continue Reading Green Groceries: Key ESG Issues for the FMCG Industry (including FBOs)
On 19 December 2022, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) decided to create a new global mechanism requiring the private sector to pay into a new Global Biodiversity Trust Fund.
The new fund is expected to generate up to 15 billion USD per year, based on contributions from companies that “use…
A snapshot by yours truly while following the debate on synthetic biology. As you can see, business gets a seat in a place far, far away – in the back of the room.
After two weeks of intense negotiations in Montreal, on 19 December 2022, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the new Global Biodiversity Framework. Covington partner Bart Van Vooren was on the ground as a business delegate to these talks.
This blog explains one the most consequential outcomes for companies from COP15: the decision to set up a global mechanism requiring the private sector to pay into a new Global Biodiversity Trust Fund. The COP15 Decision was to decide to set up the mechanism immediately, and to tease out the details over the next two years. In short, the new fund is expected to generate up to 15 billion USD per year from companies that “use digital sequence information on genetic resources“. The revenue generated will then be disbursed in support of the four (4) Goals for 2050 and twenty-three (23) Targets for 2030 that together make up the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). This new mechanism will no doubt impact most life sciences companies, but the COP15 Press Release hinted at two sectors that are being singled out (my emphasis):
“Digital sequence information on genetic resources – a dominant topic at COP15 – has many commercial and non-commercial applications, including pharmaceutical product development, improved crop breeding, taxonomy, and the monitoring of invasive species.“
Reader beware, this blog is a long read. I will first provide some insight on the political narratives and financial expectations underpinning the new system, and then deep dive into the legal nitty-gritty and (un)knowns of the Decision on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) adopted by COP15.Continue Reading Outcome from COP 15: a New Global Biodiversity Fund Paid For by Life Sciences Companies that “Use Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources”