This article was originally posted on our sister blog Global Policy Watch

Introduction

Health technology assessment (“HTA”) is a multidisciplinary assessment process that seeks to evaluate the added therapeutic value of health technologies (i.e., drugs, certain medical devices, medical treatments including surgical procedures, and measures for disease prevention and diagnosis) based on both clinical and non-clinical elements.  Until now, HTA has strictly fallen in the purview of EU Member States; they have cooperated among themselves in this field for more than 20 years on a purely voluntary basis.  This has led to initiatives such as EUnetHTA, which is a network of national HTA bodies, and its various Joint Actions.  Article 15 of the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (Directive 2011/24) also provides for that national bodies responsible for HTA should cooperate on a voluntary basis.  Gradually, these various actions have developed common criteria for the performance of HTA at national level.  For example, the last “Joint Action 3” of EUnetHTA seeks to define common assessment methodologies, develop common ICT tools, and conduct and produce joint clinical assessments and HTA reports.

EU Member States have acknowledged the significant role that HTA plays and called on the European Commission to continue to support such initiatives (see, e.g.Council conclusions of December 6, 2014, on innovation for the benefit of patients).  However, in a resolution of March 2, 2017, the European Parliament went a step further and called on the Commission to propose legislation on health technology assessment at the EU level to provide transparent and harmonized criteria to evaluate the added therapeutic value of drugs and other health technologies.
Continue Reading The Commission’s Proposal on Health Technology Assessment – Will the EU Member States Accept its Mandatory Provisions?

The “Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity” is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force on 12 October 2014.

The Nagoya Protocol imposes a complex set of multi-jurisdictional compliance obligations on businesses active in the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics and other life science sectors. It now has more than 100 contracting parties, including the EU. The key legal source in the EU is Regulation (EU) No. 511/2014 on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union.
Continue Reading German government has started enforcement of the Nagoya Protocol and reviews compliance of pharmaceutical companies

By Dr. Dr. Adem Koyuncu, Covington & Burling LLP

In the EU, drug companies are not allowed to publicly promote prescription-only medicines. As courts also apply a broad interpretation of the term “promotional”, nearly all public statements that mention a prescription drug are likely to be qualified as illegal advertising. In certain circumstances, this may be the case even if no drug is mentioned.

But what should a drug company do if false statements about its product are distributed? What is allowed in case of a so-called shitstorm? What can the company do to counter negative public statements about its drugs by HTA bodies or other institutions of the healthcare system?

Continue Reading German court allows pharma company public promotional statements about Rx-drug to counter a “shitstorm” – a trend also for the rest of the EU?

On 11 November 2016, the German Parliament passed another new law amending different parts of the German Medicines Act (Arzneimittelgesetz) and the Act on Advertising for Healthcare Products (Heilmittelwerbegesetz). The law is titled “Viertes Gesetz zur Änderung arzneimittelrechtlicher und anderer Vorschriften“. The draft was deliberated in the health committee of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) on 30 November 2016 and it has become clear that the Federal Council will not object to it in its final deliberations later this month. Therefore, the new law will likely become effective at the beginning of 2017.

The new law especially amends the existing clinical trial rules so that German law will comply with the new Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No 536/2014. The amendments  particularly affect the approval procedure for new studies and the competencies of the ethics committees and regulatory authorities. While currently, two full stand-alone approvals for a study are required (i.e., from the ethics committee and the competent authority), under the new law, certain parts of the ethics committee’s opinion may be overruled by the authority. In addition, a new federal ethics committee can be established by the regulatory authorities which would additionally lead to significant changes in the procedure.
Continue Reading Another round of upcoming amendments to the medicines laws in Germany – Clinical Trials, Advertising, Biologics and more…

Recently, the German Federal Ministry of Health published a new draft law (“Viertes AMG-Änderungsgesetz”) which aims to amend several provisions of the German Drug Act (Arzneimittelgesetz) and other drug-related laws.

Most of the intended amendments result from an adjustment of German laws to the new European Clinical Trials Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 536/2014). For instance, several provisions of the German Drug Act related to clinical trials (e.g., definitions) will then refer to the Clinical Trials Regulation or are amended accordingly. The German Ordinance on Good Clinical Practice (GCP-Verordnung) will cease to be in force. Furthermore, some amendments, particularly those that refer to the informed consent of study subjects, will go beyond the scope of the Clinical Trials Regulation.
Continue Reading Comprehensive Amendments of German Drug Laws upcoming

Raj Gathani, a Trainee Solicitor in Covington’s London office, contributed to this post.

On 1 September 2015 the General Court issued an interim order in favour of Pari Pharma GmbH (“Pari”) to suspend the European Medicines Agency’s (“EMA”) decision to grant a third-party, Novartis Europharm Ltd (“Novartis”), access to certain documents prepared during the Marketing Authorisation (“MA”) application process (the “MA Documents”).  The MA Documents at issue included EMA Assessment Reports on similarity and superiority between Pari’s product (Vantobra) and Novartis’ product (TOBI Podhaler), which has an EU MA as an orphan medicine.  Novartis made the request to the EMA for access to the MA Documents under the Transparency Regulation 1049/2001.  The main case is currently pending before the General Court (Case T-235/15).

The thrust of Pari’s argument before the General Court was that the MA Documents contain Pari’s regulatory strategy for obtaining MA approval, disclosure of which might cause Pari serious and irreparable financial damage.  The President of the General Court acknowledged that the case raised complex issues in the area of confidentiality and stated that the main proceedings (rather than an interim hearing) is the appropriate forum to address such issues..  As such the President considered that the MA Documents fell under a presumption of confidentiality  and ordered the EMA not to disclose the MA Documents.
Continue Reading General Court Makes Interim Order to Protect Confidentiality in Pari Pharma Transparency Case

On 11 June 2015, the General Court handed down its judgment in Case T-452/14 Laboratoires CTRS v European Commission (the “CTRS Case”) annulling the Commission’s decision to grant Kolbam a marketing authorisation.  The General Court held that references in Kolbam’s SmPC to the efficacy of Kolbam for indications that Orphacol was authorised circumvented Orphacol’s market exclusivity and could encourage off label prescribing.
Continue Reading General Court Confirms Market Exclusivity Rights in CTRS Case

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recently published for public consultation its draft guideline on clinical development of fixed combination medicinal products (Draft Guideline), which is intended to replace CHMP/EWP/240/95 Rev. 1 (Existing Guideline).  The Draft Guideline applies to fixed combination medicinal products containing two or more active substances within a single pharmaceutical form.  The active substances may be known active substances or substances that have yet to be authorised in the EU.
Continue Reading New Draft EMA-Guideline On Clinical Development Of Fixed Combination Medicines

On 27 May 2015, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) issued a decision launching a sector inquiry into the supply of vaccines for human use.

The ICA has stated that it has launched the sector inquiry because of:

  • the importance of vaccines in terms of health care costs borne by the Italian National Health Service (over

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