On 26 May 2023 the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced it plans to introduce an international reliance route for the approval of medicinal products. This shows the UK is now looking beyond the EU in its approach to recognizing foreign marketing authorizations. The MHRA is “focused on providing
Update on the VPAS Judicial Review brought by the British Generic Manufacturers Association
The Voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access (“VPAS”) is a voluntary agreement that regulates the price of the vast majority of branded medicines sold in the UK (including branded generics and biosimilars). VPAS is critical to the commercial interests of most innovative pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK. It has traditionally…
EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: Temporary Emergency Marketing Authorizations
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the relatively slow approval of vaccines in the EU versus other key jurisdictions, as part of the EU’s General Pharmaceutical Legislation amendment proposal, published on 26 April 2023, the European Commission has proposed to introduce temporary emergency marketing authorizations (“TEMAs”) for use when there is a “public health emergency.” …
EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: National MA Procedures Including the Mutual Recognition Procedure and Decentralized Procedure
The European Commission (the “Commission”) wants to “avoid unnecessary administrative and financial burdens for applicants and competent authorities.” As such, the Commission’s proposal for a revised Directive on the Union Code Relating to Medicinal Products for Human Use (the “Directive”) retains the Decentralized Procedure (“DCP”) and Mutual Recognition Procedure (“MRP”). Chapter III of…
EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: Advertising Updates Reflect Evolution Rather than Revolution
As highlighted in our recent series of blog posts (please see our Inside EU Life Sciences blog series here), the European Commission has at long last published its proposal to overhaul EU legislation for human medicinal products.
On 26 April 2023, the Commission published its proposal for a new human medicines directive (the “Proposed Directive”) to replace the current European Medicines Directive (Directive 2001/83/EC); as well as a regulation for centrally authorised medicines (the “Proposed Regulation”) to replace the current Regulation 726/2004.
Medicines advertising and promotion rules are of key interest to pharmaceutical companies operating in the EU. This blog looks into how the new legislative proposal might affect the advertising landscape, focusing on the Proposed Directive (whose advertising provisions also apply to products covered under the Proposed Regulation).
For those of you who are perhaps breathless from the suite of new proposals, advertising and promotion may appear to be one small area to exhale in relief. However, some of the proposed changes may have significant practical implications, particularly for comparative advertising.
The headline news is that – for advertising – the Proposed Directive largely maintains the status quo. It remains aligned almost entirely with the current framework, supplementing rather than revolutionizing current law.
The evolutionary approach is unsurprising. EU-level law is really only the “tip” of the proverbial “iceberg” when it comes to pharmaceutical advertising in Europe. Many operational rules are nationally diverse, and found in national laws, codes and rulings. Moreover, in practice, pharmaceuticals advertising is often largely governed and enforced through the self-regulatory system and self-regulatory codes, such as the Code of Practice of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (the “EFPIA Code”) and its various national incarnations. The Explanatory Memorandum to the Proposed Directive suggests legislators have tried to avoid overhauling the intricate framework regulating advertising. Nevertheless, the Proposed Directive does make some changes to advertising rules. Most are generally uncontroversial and/or “tidy ups”; but others may be more significant, particularly supplementing the definition of “advertising” and new provisions on comparative advertising. …
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EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: GMO Medicines
“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.…
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EU Pharma Legislation Review Series: Addressing Environmental Risks
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.…
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Legislative Proposals for Clinical Trials Aim to Streamline, Simplify and Stimulate UK-based Innovation
On 21 March 2023, the UK Government published its response to the consultation on legislative reform proposals for clinical trials that took place from January to March 2022.
The current legislation governing clinical trials in the UK is the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004, as amended. This implements the EU Clinical Trials Directive 2001/20/EC and has not been amended to align with the subsequently introduced EU Clinical Trials Regulation 536/2014.
The proposed reforms centre on delivering “a more agile and flexible UK regulatory framework”, as part of the Government’s broader ambition to create a more appealing regulatory environment for life sciences innovation in the UK. The emphasis on promoting clinical research in the UK was highlighted by the recent Government announcement of an independent review into UK clinical trials, prompted by figures suggesting that the number of industry clinical trials initiated in the UK per year fell by 41% between 2017 and 2021. In addition, a decline in public engagement with clinical research (with a 44% drop in the number of participants recruited to commercial clinical trials in the last five years) highlights the need for reform in this area.
The Government’s proposed reforms involve streamlining the procedures supporting the approval and conduct of clinical trials, removing duplicative requirements, and enabling flexibility in a risk-based and proportionate manner.
The proposals also envisage a clinical trials regime that requires greater transparency and encourages, though notably will not require, a diverse range of patient and public involvement.
The main proposals with which the Government intends to move forward are discussed below.…
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EU Talking Life Sciences Audiocast: Episode 3 – Social Media Challenges for Pharma Companies – Comparing Approaches in Europe and the US
Tune into the third episode of Covington’s Life Sciences Audiocast, where Grant Castle, Stefanie Doebler, and Raj Gathani discuss social media challenges for pharma companies in Europe and the U.S.
UK MHRA to recognize foreign regulatory approvals for medicines and medical technologies and promote digital innovation
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…