Medicinal Products

On April 30, 2024, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) outlined its strategic approach (“Approach”) to artificial intelligence (“AI”).  The Approach is a response to the UK Government’s white paper: a pro-innovation approach to AI regulation and subsequent Secretary of State letter of 1 February 2024, and is the culmination of 12 months’ work by the MHRA to ensure the risks of AI are appropriately balanced with the potential transformative impact of AI in healthcare.

AI in Healthcare

AI has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare sector and improve health outcomes at every stage of healthcare provision – from preventative care through to diagnosis and treatment.  AI can help in research and development by strengthening outcomes of clinical trials, as well as being used to improve the clinical care of patients by personalizing care, improving diagnosis and treatment, enhancing the delivery of care and health system efficiency, and supplementing healthcare professionals’ knowledge, skills and competencies. Continue Reading MHRA Outlines New Strategic Approach to Artificial Intelligence

On 10 April 2024, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Commission proposal to reform the core EU pharmaceutical legislation (see here and here).  In doing so, the European Parliament has met its ambitious timeline to adopt its position before the upcoming Parliamentary elections and marks a significant step in the legislative process. 

Parliament’s position comes less than a year since the Commission published its proposal, which consists of a new directive replacing Directive 2001/83/EC and a new master regulation replacing Regulation 726/2004, which will also consolidate the orphan and pediatric medicines regulations (see our prior EU Pharma Legislation Review blog series).  Many of Parliament’s amendments to the Commission proposal will be seen as improvements by the innovative industry, but there remain challenges and unresolved questions.

We provide below the top 8 takeaways for industry to consider during the next phase of the legislative process, which is a detailed review by the Council.Continue Reading European Parliament adopts its Position on EU Pharma Law Review: 8 Key Takeaways for Industry

The Holiday season of 2023 proved to be a busy one for innovative pharmaceutical companies in the UK and their legal and regulatory teams.

UK pharmaceutical companies are already number-crunching through two new price control systems for 2024 (please see our blog and audiocast).  In addition to the UK pricing regime changing, there are proposals to update advertising rules and the procedure for adjudicating upon advertising complaints.   

On 13 December 2023, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (“ABPI”) published proposals to update the 2021 ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry (“ABPI Code”) and the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (“PMCPA”) Constitution and Procedure (which sets out the procedure for adjudicating upon advertising complaints).  Companies have until 29 February 2024 to contribute to the consultation.

Many of the proposed changes to the ABPI Code are clarificatory in nature, but the planned changes to the complaints process may be of particular interest to in-house legal teams.  These changes are designed to make the PMCPA complaints process less formulaic and more flexible.  This could help manage relatively straightforward cases with greater efficiency, whilst also accommodating for cases which involve serious allegations and/or complex facts.  If implemented as proposed, the changes are likely to give PMCPA cases a more judicial or legalistic feel, particularly when it comes to case management.Continue Reading Consultation on Changes to the ABPI Code and UK Advertising Complaints Process

On 20 November 2023, the UK Government and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (“ABPI”) ‒ the industry body representing the innovative pharmaceutical industry in the UK ‒ announced a new 5-year voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing, access and growth (“VPAG”).

Although the parties have announced agreement upon heads of terms, it is already clear this is very significant news for the pricing and reimbursement of branded medicines in the UK.  It is likely to represent a paradigm-shift in the way the innovative pharmaceutical industry will view reimbursement.Continue Reading VPAG – New 5-Year Pricing Agreement Agreed between UK Government and the UK Pharmaceutical Industry Body (ABPI)

The German government is discussing a new Pharma Strategy with a number of reforms to improve the conditions for the pharmaceutical industry in Germany. Recently, the “Strategy Paper 4.0 – Improving the General Conditions for the Pharmaceutical Sector in Germany” (original title: Strategiepapier 4.0: Verbesserung der Rahmenbedingungen für den Pharmabereich in Deutschland – Handlungskonzepte für den Forschungs- und Produktionsstandort) became public that reportedly has the backing of the German Chancellor and the Federal Health Minister.

This strategy paper presents a range of measures to strengthen, among other things, pharmaceutical research and production in Germany and to improve the market access and pricing environment. These measures would have a significant impact for a multitude of players in the life sciences field. As such, the German government anticipates faster approvals for clinical trials, faster access to innovative medicines, more digitalization, greater supply security, a more investment-friendly environment and reduction of bureaucracy. Currently, and this is widely acknowledged by the government and most stakeholders, there is significant room for improvement in all of these areas.Continue Reading German Government pursues new Pharma Strategy with significant Reform Ideas

Roughly a decade ago, countries such as the USA and France introduced ground-breaking transparency and disclosure legislation under so-called “Sunshine Acts.”  Broadly speaking, such legislation made it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to publish records of payments or other transfers of value made to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare organizations (HCOs).

The UK followed a subtly

On 29 September 2023, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) published further guidance (“MHRA Guidance”) on changes to labelling and packaging for medicinal products intended for the UK market (including Northern Ireland) under the Windsor Framework (agreed between the UK and the EU on 27 February 2023, please see our client alert here). 

The MHRA Guidance follows the Agency’s announcement of new labelling and packaging measures in June 2023, which will take effect from 1 January 2025.  The new measures require, amongst other things: (i) medicinal products intended for the UK market to be authorized by the MHRA; (ii) a single UK-wide pack that bears a “UK only” label; and (iii) disapplication of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU (“EU FMD”) to UK packs (please see our blog post on this announcement here).

The latest MHRA Guidance provides further detail on the above measures.Continue Reading New MHRA Guidance on the Windsor Framework: Detail on Labelling and Packaging Changes

On 30 August 2023, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) published detailed guidance on its recently announced new International Reliance Procedure (“IRP”) (see our prior blog and audiocast).  The IRP will apply from 1 January 2024 and will replace and significantly expand on existing EU reliance procedures to apply to authorizations

Big news for manufacturers: the UK Government announced on 1 August 2023 that it will indefinitely recognize the EU’s product conformity assessment mark (the “Conformité Européenne” or “CE” mark), with respect to a range of manufactured goods placed on the UK market. 

The move is a significant reversal of the UK’s previous, post‑Brexit policy.  In a bid to separate the UK’s internal market from the European market, the UK promised to phase out CE marks for products marketed in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain or “GB”), and replace them with an equivalent “UKCA” mark.  However, the project suffered from numerous delays, and the UK repeatedly extended the deadline for transitioning from the CE mark to the UKCA mark, before the recent announcement that the UK will accept CE marks indefinitely.  Despite this change of policy, the UK has not abandoned the UKCA mark yet, and manufacturers may still choose to use it.  Even so, it is not obvious why a manufacturer would choose conformity assessment that is recognized only in the UK over (or even as well as) conformity assessment that is recognized across the UK and the EU.  What remains to be seen is whether differences between the UK and EU conformity assessment standards will lead to a kind of “forum shopping” by manufacturers. 

Also, and of significant importance for medical device manufacturers, the indefinite extension of CE mark recognition does not (at least currently) cover medical devices nor in vitro diagnostic medical devices (“IVDs”).  The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) is separately consulting on international recognition of foreign approvals (including CE marks) in the medical device space.Continue Reading UK Government to Recognize CE Marks Indefinitely (other than for Medical Devices and IVDs)