On the 27 October 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) issued a preliminary ruling  regarding the definition of foods for special medical purposes (“FSMP”).  The CJEU held that for a food product to be classified as an FSMP, it must cover the increased or specific nutritional requirements caused by the disease.  It is not sufficient that the product counteracts the disease or alleviates its symptoms, as that would blur the lines between foods and medicinal products. 

1. Background to the Dispute

This ruling arose in the context of an action brought by Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb e.V. (“VSW”) against Orthomol pharmazeutische Vertriebs GmbH (“Orthomol”) regarding two Orthomol products classification as FSMPs.  This action was brought before the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) at the first instance and was then appealed to the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) which then referred the case to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. 

Continue Reading CJEU clarifies the Food for Special Medical Purposes Definition

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

This article was originally posted on our sister blog Inside Medical Devices

The EU Regulatory Committee on Medical Devices recently voted in favor of the European Commission’s draft decision on the classification of cranberry products (the “Cranberry Decision”).  In essence, the Cranberry Decision provides that cranberry products intended to prevent or treat cystitis and that have a principal intended action based on proanthocyanidins (“PACs”) do not fall within the definition of medical devices.  The European Commission adopted its draft decision based on Article 13(1)(d) of Directive 93/42/EEC (the “Medical Devices Directive”).

The vote comes more than one year after the Commission prepared a draft decision, in February 2016 (see our analysis of that draft decision here).  The formal adoption and publication of the Cranberry Decision are expected later this summer.  This article first briefly summarizes the regulatory context of EU borderline issues.  It then explains what triggered the decision, analyzes its content, and provides a brief outlook on what is coming next.
Continue Reading EU Vote on First Borderline Decision Confirms: Cranberry Products Are Not Medical Devices

This article was originally posted on our sister blog Inside Medical Devices

Earlier this week, in a plenary vote, the EU Parliament endorsed the texts of the Regulation on Medical Devices (the “Regulation”—latest version available here) and the parallel Regulation on In-Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices (the “IVD Regulation”—latest version available here).  This presents a good opportunity to have a closer look at one of the essential questions of the revision of the medical device rules, namely, whether the scope of the Regulation changes in comparison to that of the main Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC (the “Directive”).  We examine below the changes to the definition of a medical device and whether the Regulation affects borderline determinations.

As discussed in our earlier post, the borderline between medical devices, medicinal products, cosmetics and foods or food supplements is often blurred.  The Regulation sheds some additional light on the definition of a medical device and strengthens the Commission’s power in relation to the borderline issues.  Nevertheless, important questions continue to exist, for instance in relation to the pharmacological versus physical (or purely chemical) mode of action of a product.
Continue Reading EU Medical Devices Regulation Series: Potential for Easing Borderline Determinations?

On 10 July 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave its judgment in a case involving “legal highs” that a substance which only influences physiological functions without any beneficial effects on human health, shall not be considered as a medicinal product within the meaning of Article 1(2)(b) of Directive 2001/83/EC (decision of the CJEU, dated 10 July 2014, joined cases C-358/13 and C-181/14 (criminal proceedings against Markus D. and G.)). The CJEU thus clarifies the scope of the definition of medicinal products under EU laws and overrules diverging case law at Member State level. This decision is potentially relevant for the regulatory classification of other borderline products.

This CJEU decision answered a request for a preliminary ruling issued by the German Federal Supreme Court on whether a product containing herbs and synthetic cannabinoids must be classified as a medicinal product. The product in question was sold in small bags and did not contain fixed quantities of active substances or any indications on the active substance or dosage guidance. However, it was proved in pre-experimental studies that these substances had a physiological effect, but did not have any desired health effects. The sellers declared those products to be “air fresheners” whose content was not suitable for human consumption.
Continue Reading EU Court Of Justice Further Clarifies Definition Of Medicinal Products – And Raises New Questions

In February 2014, the MHRA published new guidance on borderline medical devices.  The guidance considers only medical devices within the terms of the Medical Device Directive and not the Active Implantable Medical Devices Directive or In Vitro Medical Devices Directive.

Purpose and mode of action

The MHRA makes clear that borderline determinations “will be based on the stated intended purpose of the product and its mode of action.”  The intended purpose will be determined by the labelling, instructions for use, and promotional material for the medical device.  However, the governing factor in assessing whether a product is a medical device or medicinal product is the mode of action of the product concerned.

Application to products

The guidance provides examples of borderline devices across a number of categories, including medicines, sport and leisure products, personal protection equipment, software, machinery, spare parts, second-hand devices, and custom-made devices.
Continue Reading New MHRA Guidance on Borderline Medical Devices