Medicinal Products

Last week, Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, published his Spring Budget for the UK.  It identified life sciences and digital technologies as “high growth sectors,” which the UK Government wishes to prioritize.  Among other things, the Budget outlined the Government’s plans to simplify medicines and technology approvals, plus changes to the regulation

On 14 February 2023, the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) has presented the new draft “Act to Combat Supply Shortages of Off-Patent Medicines and to Improve the Supply of Paediatric Medicines” (Arzneimittel-Lieferengpassbekämpfungs- und Versorgungsverbesserungsgesetz or ALBVVG”). Some commentators also refer to the new law as the “Generics Act” but

On 26 January 2023, the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (“PMCPA”) published its “Social Media Guidance 2023” (the “Guidance”).

The Guidance is the first of its kind in the UK and is long-awaited. 

The PMCPA is the self-regulatory body that administers and enforces the ABPI Code (the voluntary advertising code that many pharmaceutical companies adhere to in the UK).  The ABPI Code sets out a number of overarching principles but does not address social media in detail.  The PMCPA had some years ago published “digital guidelines” but these were archived for updating.

The first – and probably most important – thing to say about the Guidance is that it (finally) exists.  Social media has become a major compliance headache for UK pharmaceutical companies.  These days a significant number of PMCPA complaints, investigations and adjudications concern corporate or employee social media activity, particularly on LinkedIn.  The absence of clear and codified guidance until now led to a lack of clarity.  Key regulatory principles had evolved through a series of case rulings, which were often highly fact-dependent.  While dissecting cases into the early hours may be interesting for us pharmaceutical advertising lawyers, compliance teams will likely appreciate having codified guidelines to refer to.

Secondly, the Guidance is likely to disappoint anyone hoping for seismic shifts in the PMCPA’s regulatory approach.  Much of the Guidance aligns closely to rules and principles that had developed in the Authority’s case history.  It also broadly aligns with EFPIA’s and IFPMA’s recently published “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Social Media and Digital Media Channels” (see our blog post).Continue Reading UK PMCPA Publishes First Ever Guidance to Pharmaceutical Companies about Social Media

The German regulation of pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals is probably one of the most complicated legal areas in the entire world of life sciences laws. Now, the German government is adding another layer of complexity to the existing rules.

On 20 October 2022, the German Parliament has accepted the draft Act for the Financial Stabilization of the German Statutory Health Insurance System („GKV-FinStG“). The new act was subject to month-long controversial discussions within and outside of the Parliament and affected stakeholders. This was due to the fact that the new rules will affect almost all players within the healthcare system, including the health insurers, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and, especially, the pharmaceutical industry. The new law encompasses significant cost-containment measures as the German healthcare system faces increased costs while, at the same time, the system suffers from a reduced inflow of funds.Continue Reading Germany significantly tightens Drug Pricing and Reimbursement Laws

On 28 September 2022, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) published joint guidelines concerning the use of social media and digital media channels by pharmaceutical companies (Joint Digital Guidelines).  IFPMA  and EFPIA are umbrella trade bodies for the innovative pharmaceutical industry on the global and European stages, respectively.

The Joint Digital Guidelines are timely.  Digital communications and the use of social media have become hot compliance topics for the pharmaceutical industry, both in Europe and globally.  Actors in the healthcare world increasingly use digital communication channels; many clinicians, patients and patient organizations actually prefer to receive content digitally.  With more content comes higher compliance risk.  Digital communications, particularly over social media, can spread fast across borders and are often publicly accessible. 

It is no surprise that a very significant number of pharmaceutical advertising cases in European markets now concern digital channels or social media.  This certainly reflects our experience; and this is an area where our pharmaceutical advertising experts are continually advising clients.Continue Reading IFPMA and EFPIA Publish New Joint Guidance Note on Social Media and Digital Channels

In collaboration with Corporate Law Group, New Delhi, India 

On December 16, 2021, India proposed amendments to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (the “BDA”) by introducing the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (the “Bill”).  The process to amend the BDA was undertaken in response to long-standing complaints by stakeholders in the Indian systems of medicine, seeds, and research sectors, as well as industry, that existing access and benefit-sharing (“ABS”) processes in relation to Indian biological resources are too burdensome.

The Bill has several objectives.  It seeks to attract foreign investment in Indian biological resources, to fast-track research, patent application processes, and transfer of research results, and to decriminalize non-compliance.  The Bill also seeks to further the conservation of biological resources in line with objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (“CBD”) and Nagoya Protocol to the CBD, to encourage cultivation of medicinal plants, and to support the Indian system of medicines.

The Bill’s proposed amendments are extensive and touch on many different aspects of ABS, but focus mainly on access and access procedures.  In this blog, we present the key proposed amendments, as well as next steps in the process for the adoption of the Bill.Continue Reading India To Amend Its Biodiversity Rules

From 25 to 29 January 2022, the 150th session of the World Health Organization’s (“WHO”) Executive Board (“EB”) took place in Geneva, Switzerland.  Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, a central theme for this session was the management of global health emergencies.  This post briefly outlines the main take-aways for pharmaceutical companies.
Continue Reading Key Take-aways from the 150th Session of the WHO Executive Board

On 20 January 2022, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced major changes to the processes and methods by which it assesses the cost-effectiveness of medicines and other health technologies.

NICE is an independent expert body tasked with appraising the cost-effectiveness of medicines and recommending whether a product should be funded by the National Health Service (NHS).  NICE is therefore considered the gatekeeper for medicines reimbursement; a positive recommendation obliges the NHS to fund a product.

NICE has announced a suite of detailed changes, which mark the culmination of a two-year-plus long “methods review”.  NICE will implement the changes in new guidelines.  They are due to take effect from February 2022.Continue Reading UK Aims for Faster and Fairer Access to Innovative Treatments as NICE Announces Major Changes to its Health Technology Appraisals Process

Following the federal election in September 2021, Germany will soon be led by a new three-party coalition, the so-called “traffic light coalition”, composed of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Liberal Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party (Die Grünen). This new federal government led by the new chancellor Olaf Scholz from the Social Democrats will replace the Merkel administration and will be in office for four years. On November 24, 2021, the new coalition has presented their coalition agreement with their plans for the next 4 years. The agreement needs to be approved by the respective party committees and it is expected that all three parties will approve it.Continue Reading New German Government plans significant changes with Impact on the Healthcare, Life Sciences and Food Sector

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK Government has been exploring ways to leverage its new regulatory freedoms. In particular, the life sciences sector has been a key Government priority. As early as January 2021, for example, the Government granted the MHRA powers to fast-track approvals for innovative medicines. More recently, two reports from Westminster bodies have proposed a new regulatory regime for so-called “nutraceuticals” (products that are part drug, part nutritional) to encourage investment.Continue Reading Growing calls for separate Nutraceutical regulation in the UK