Life Science Sector (UK Brexit Preparedness)

UPDATE : further information on the Clinical Trials Regulation (issued 6th August) is here.

Today (6th August) the Department of Health & Social Care, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, together, issued Guidance.

The guidance is “What the implementation period means for the life science sector’. This document is here. NB – the implementation period is the UK term for the EU transition period.

The guidance states (and note, this is subject to EU-UK agreement of the Withdrawal Agreement) :

During the implementation period:

• pharmaceutical firms will be able to continue UK batch release testing and Qualified Person certification in the UK, with this being recognised by the EU and vice versa

• marketing authorisation holders and qualified persons for pharmacovigilance will continue to be able to be based in the UK and access EU markets. There will be continued mutual recognition of manufacturing and distribution licences, as well as associated inspections such as good manufacturing practice (GMP)

• firms based in the UK will be able to continue to apply for marketing authorisations via either the centralised or decentralised procedures

• for medical devices, CE marking will continue to be used and recognised for both the UK and EU markets, and UK-based industry will not require an authorised representative established in the EU. UK notified bodies will continue to conduct third-party conformity assessment in the UK and the results of these tests will continue to be used and recognised for both the UK and EU markets.

The document also states the UK reached agreement with the EU at March European Council that the UK is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of international agreements, including Mutual Recognition Agreements, for the duration of the implementation period. The EU will notify other parties of this approach.

This means that there will be no disruption to existing relationships underpinned by international agreements as we move into the implementation period.

A vital issue is EU legislation enacted during this implementation/transition period, or enacted beforehand with forward enforcement dates in the period, or enacted after the period – below is illustrative (from this document, and applicable to this subject)

(1) The new Clinical Trials Regulation (CTR) is expected to be implemented during 2020 and would therefore apply to the UK under the terms of the time-limited implementation period.

If the new regulation does not come into force during the implementation period, the government has confirmed that UK law will remain aligned with parts of the EU’s CTR legislation that are within the UK’s control, so that researchers conducting clinical trials can plan with greater certainty.

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, the UK is committed to offering a competitive service for clinical trial assessment. This covers regulatory approval from MHRA as well as services from HRA, ethics services, NIHR and the NHS. (This is not applicable to the veterinary sector.)

(2) The EU Medical Devices Regulation will fully apply from May 2020. As this falls during the implementation period the government will fully implement the legislation.

(3) The new EU Regulation on in vitro diagnostic (IVD) medical devices will not apply until May 2022, which is outside of the implementation period. However, elements of both new devices regulations have applied directly in UK law since May 2017, meaning medical devices, including IVDs, can now be legally placed on the UK market if they are in conformity with the new regulations, invoking all relevant requirements. (This is not applicable to the veterinary sector.)

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