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
German Government presents new law to incentivize paediatric medicines and antibiotics and to combat generics shortages
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…
EU Talking Life Sciences Audiocast: Episode 1 – Key Developments in the Pharma Sector: A Review of 2022 and Insights for 2023
Tune into the first episode of Covington’s Talking Life Sciences Audiocast, where Grant Castle, Peter Bogaert and Marie Doyle-Rossi discuss key developments and trends in the pharma sector. Our speakers review the major issues of 2022, including the Clinical Trials Regulation, the Health Technology Assessment Regulation, European Health Data Space proposal and Brexit.
UK PMCPA Publishes First Ever Guidance to Pharmaceutical Companies about Social Media
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).…
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New Guidance on the Application of Article 97 of the MDR to Legacy Devices Certified under the MDD or AIMDD
It’s all happening in the device space. Further to the European Commission’s meeting we discussed last week on the proposed three-year extension to the transition period under the Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/745 (MDR), the EU Medical Device Coordination Group (MDCG) has now published guidance clarifying the use of the non-compliance procedure under Article 97 of the MDR.
Under Article 97, competent authorities can temporarily allow devices that do not comply with the MDR to continue to be placed on the market if they do not present an unacceptable risk to the health or safety of individuals or to public health.…
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European Commission Announces Intention to Introduce Three-Year Extension to the MDR Transition Period
The European Commission intends to extend the transition period under the Medical Devices Regulation (EU) 2017/745 (MDR) for an additional three years. The proposal comes among concerns with the number of devices yet to transition to the MDR, along with rising costs of re-certification and extended time periods for assessment. It is estimated that around 23,000 certificates of conformity for EU medical devices have not yet transitioned, which will expire on May 26, 2024 (if not before). Low notified body capacity is a key contributing factor for the transition delays.…
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IFPMA and EFPIA Publish New Joint Guidance Note on Social Media and Digital Channels
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.…
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European Commission to Harmonize Rules on the use of Substances of Human Origin
On 14 July 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on “substances of human origin” (“SoHO”) intended for human application. The proposed Regulation is intended to replace the existing and largely outdated Directives on SoHO, respectively on Blood and on Tissues and Cells. These sets of rules govern the sourcing and use of starting materials for innovative therapies, such as blood, tissues and cells. Pharmaceutical companies active in the manufacturing of advanced therapy medicinal products (“ATMPs”) are therefore well advised to closely monitor the developments surrounding the proposed Regulation.…
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New German Government plans significant changes with Impact on the Healthcare, Life Sciences and Food Sector
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.…
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Brazil Ratifies the Nagoya Protocol
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.
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