pilot Archives - European Industrial Pharmacists Group (EIPG)

A new member within EIPG


The European Industrial Pharmacists Group (EIPG) is pleased to announce the Romanian Association (AFFI) as its newest member following the annual General Assembly of EIPG in Rome (20th-21st April 2024). Commenting on the continued growth of EIPG’s membership, EIPG President Read more

The EU Parliament voted its position on the Unitary SPC


by Giuliana Miglierini The intersecting pathways of revision of the pharmaceutical and intellectual property legislations recently marked the adoption of the EU Parliament’s position on the new unitary Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) system, parallel to the recast of the current Read more

Reform of pharma legislation: the debate on regulatory data protection


by Giuliana Miglierini As the definition of the final contents of many new pieces of the overall revision of the pharmaceutical legislation is approaching, many voices commented the possible impact the new scheme for regulatory data protection (RDP) may have Read more

EMA’s pilot scheme for academic and non-profit development of ATMPs

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Giuliana Miglierini

Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) are often developed by academic and non-profit organisations, because of their high level expertise in the biotechnological techniques that underpin many new therapeutic approaches. On the other hand, these organisations often lack sufficient understanding and experience to face the complexity of the regulatory development.

To improve the possibility for non-commercial developers to access regulatory and scientific support related to promising ATMPs addressing unmet medical needs, a pilot was launched by EMA in September 2022. Three projects have been already selected to participate to the pilot. ARI-0001, a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) product based on patients’ own T-cells, developed by the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, was the first project to access the pilot. The product was granted eligibility to the PRIME scheme in December 2021, and is targeted to treat patients older than 25 years with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

The second call closed in December 2023 and saw the participation of 11 candidates, among which two new academic organisations were selected. The Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT) – Charité is developing TregTacRes, a gene therapy based on modified T-cells, for use as add-on therapy after transplantation. Fondazione Telethon’s gene therapy Telethon 003 (etuvetidigene autotemcel) targets the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a rare, life-threatening immunodeficiency.

The new phase of the project will now recruit a total of 5 new participants by the end of 2024. The first results of the pilot are expected in 2025.

How to apply
Interested academic organisations can find all information together with the ATMP Pilot Application Form on the dedicated EMA webpage; applications are open up to the end of April 2024. The email address [email protected] is also available to request more information or to express interest in participating. A guideline document on fee incentives for scientific advice, marketing authorisation (MA) applications and pre-authorisation inspections for academic participants is available, together with Q&As on the pilot.

Pre-selected candidates will be invited to a meeting with EMA’s Innovation Task Force (ITF) to provide further information on their projects before final selection. At this stage, interactions between EMA and applicants would mainly take place via the online platform IRIS. Therefore, interested organisations will need to register to the platform and request a research product identifier (RPI).

Requirements and procedure for the application
Academic developers active in the EU can apply to the pilot provided they have already generated some proof-of-principle data on the interested ATMP. The academic status of the organisation will be checked by EMA during the selection phase. Applicants may include public/not-forprofit hospitals or research organisations and hospitals, Higher Education Institutions (HEI), public-private partnerships/consortia, and international research organisations, provided they are establish in the EU. In case of projects comprehensive of non-EU participants, the principal investigator has to be located in the EU, and clinical trials must include EU patients. The academic sponsor must be free from operating agreements with any pharmaceutical company, and it can freely operate via intellectual property rights on the product.

The support provided by EMA aims to ensure that development activities would meet regulatory standards as for quality, safety and efficacy of the ATMP product. A smooth path towards the submission of the MA application based on existing regulatory procedures and tools should therefore be possible. The pilot also aims to identify potential gaps in existing tools and procedures, from the perspective of academic sector developers.

Key principles used to select the new participants are listed in the Q&As document. As for individual ATMPs under development, they must address an unmet medical need, represent a major therapeutic advantage over existing treatments, or offer a new option in orphan areas. Previous eligibility to the PRIME scheme is not a prerequisite to apply for the pilot. The Q&As also specify that there is no direct link between the product having received an hospital exemption (HE) and access to the academic pilot.

Preliminary clinical evidence in patients is needed to support the application, as well as information on the mechanism of action gained by non-clinical studies. A sufficiently mature quality development, to be assessed against the pharmaceutical process and the planned GMP manufacturing process, should be also available to better support later stage clinical development and/or a MA application in the EU.

The academic sponsor must also have full access to the data related to the development and manufacture of the product, e.g. control of critical starting materials. The knowledge needed to successfully interact with EMA may be ideally provided by a specific person (also a consultant) appointed by the sponsor and with experience in the field of product development and regulatory affairs.

Benefits and fee reductions
Selected academic organisations will benefit by a dedicated EMA’s point of contact in the relevant therapeutic area office. A EMA Support team may be also appointed to provide regulatory and scientific support depending on the stage of development and nature of the program. Activities to be part of the pilot may include preparatory teleconferences to check planning, identify potential needs for additional support and complement interaction mechanisms under existing tools. The optimisation of pre-submission meetings is another goal of the pilot, together with debriefings before and/or after regulatory interactions. A particular attention will be payed to the regular assessment of the level of maturity of the projects, including co-decisions and stopping points.

EMA will also provide financial support to the selected academic applicants for the activities concerning the five selected ATMPs. More in particular, the Agency will grant the same incentives as for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, with respect to fees established by the Council Regulation (EC) No 297/95 and its Implementing Rules.

To qualify for the fee incentives, selected academic organisations must continue to fulfil all the above mentioned criteria for accessing the pilot also at the time of the request for a fee incentive related to a procedure or service to be provided as a part of the pilot itself. To this instance, applicants shall submit a declaration to EMA, inclusive of the fulfilment of requirements and establishment in the European economic area.

Incentives for academic organisations participating to the pilot include a 90% fee reduction for both initial scientific advice and follow-up, and pre-authorisation inspections. MA applications for designated orphan medicinal products for human use will benefit a 100% fee reduction, while MA applications not covered under this occurrence will see deferral of payment until the notification of the final decision on the MA for the concerned ATMP is issued.

The document on fee incentives specifies also that remuneration of national competent authorities for those activities shall not be reduced.

The granting of fee incentives will follow EMA’s verification of the documentation submitted by the applicants. After confirmation by the Agency the applicant qualifies for the fee reduction, participants to the pilot will have a six months period to submit their requests for scientific advice and/or marketing authorisation. Ex–post controls and prove of evidence confirming the fulfilment of criteria for the fee reduction may also be required at any time until the finalisation of the concerned procedure.


ICMRA, two pilot programmes to optimise regulatory assessment and inspections

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

by Giuliana Miglierini

New flexible modalities for the management of regulatory procedures are becoming progressively accepted even for routine activities, upon the experience built during the pandemic. Efforts are ongoing at the global level in order to better harmonise the new approaches. To this instance, the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) has launched two pilot programmes focused, respectively, on the collaborative assessments of chemistry, manufacturing and control (CMC) and Post-Approval Change (PAC) submissions and related regulatory actions and on hybrid inspections.

Each programme is expected to last 1-1.5 years and should see the involvement of at least two regulatory regions, each one conducting three assessments or collaborative hybrid inspections. Recommendations resulting from the pilots shall be published in 2023, representing the basis of an initial common framework for collaborative assessment and hybrid inspections. The initiative follows the results of a workshop organised by ICMRA in July 2021, during which emerged the need for more convergence and reliance across regulatory authorities in order to support the timely supply of critical medicines.

ICRMA has invited industrial sponsors to participate to the initiative, with particular reference to those planning to file an application for a new product or for post approval changes of already approved products to more than one regulatory agency. All details and the procedure for application are available at this link.

Therapeutics which may be object of the submission include both small molecules and biological products. The submission may refer to products for the treatment of Covid-19, other medically necessary/critical medicines or products granted for access to fast-track procedures such as the Breakthrough (US), PRIME (EU) or Sakigake (JP) schemes.

Interested sponsors are required to check with the involved facility’s management to ensure readiness for inspection and possibility to host a collaborative hybrid inspection, with a particular attention to the availability of suitable IT infrastructures and interpretation services, and the possibility to coordinate at least two inspectorates across different time-zones.

Applications are open since 15 June 2022 and have to be forwarded using the EudraLink secure file transfer application provided by EMA. After a rolling review of the applications, starting of the first pilot is scheduled for September 2022.

The general objectives

The main goals of the initiative include the definition of best practices and standards in the quality assessment of CMC-related post-approval changes and collaborative hybrid inspections. A single list of questions to the sponsor or manufacturer should also be delivered, and answers be shared with the participating quality assessors and inspectors.

The exercise should lead to the identification of misalignments and potential areas of harmonization across participating regulatory regions. An improved convergence and collaboration among regulators in specific data expectations and assessment approaches for the assessment of manufacturing facilities for Pre-Approval and Pre-License Applications (PAIs & PLIs) and reviewing PACs and PAC Management Protocols may also be supported by the analysis of the data acquired during the two programmes.

Hybrid inspections

Hybrid inspections are based on the collaboration of at least two different National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), one of which in charge of the on-site inspection activities, the second acting as a remote inspectorate. The respective tasks shall be coordinated and run using virtual technologies, so to enable real-time collaboration in the inspection activities, which should target facilities and products of interest for multiple regulatory agencies (see more details here and here).

The pilot is expected to reduce the need of multiple inspections or facility assessments and to support the identification of the best virtual platforms and information technology (i.e., video) to facilitate concurrent on-site inspection and distant assessment. Focus on the development of a common framework to accommodate time zone differences between the facility location and the distant inspectorates is also expected.

Best practices to prepare and conduct the hybrid inspection are another important outcome, as both the on-site and distant inspectorates needs to obtain from the activities all the information needed to run their respective assessments.

In the critical field of GMP expectations, a possible target of the pilot may be represented by how the inspection is reported and how deficiencies are classified by different regulators. Aligned reports and protocols may also support the sharing of information with other interested ICRMA inspectorates. In any case, each participating authority remains the sole responsible for the evaluation of the outcomes of the inspection and the enforcement of any consequent action, according to its own reference legal framework.

A final protocol describing how to execute a hybrid inspection is a main expected outcome of the fist pilot, to be then applied by the Working Group to evaluate at least 3-5 facilities with at least two regulatory agencies involved in the hybrid assessment.

Collaborative assessment

The second pilot aims to run collaborative quality assessment for a minimum of three different applications and a minimum of three regulatory agencies involved each time. The initial phase of the pilot should see a limited number of regulatory agencies (3-5) participating to the project, on the basis of specific confidentiality agreements.

Sponsors participating to the pilot shall submit a single application for the proposed CMC changes for assessment by multiple regulatory authorities; the initial focus is expected to be on post-approval change management protocols (PACMPs; chapter 4 of ICH Q12) for Covid-19 therapeutics. More in detail, participating regulatory agencies will agree on the procedure to be used for the collaborative assessment. They are expected to share and discuss in advance any information request or comment, prior to the interaction with the applicant. Any participating authority can maintain its independence to issue information requests, but in any case, the so obtained answers shall be shared with other NRAs and assessed on the basis of a common approach, so to avoid the need of multiple independent lists of clarification seeking comments.

The project also aims to achieve a single regulatory decision regarding the joint assessment (see more details here and here).

More specifically, priorities to be addressed should include for example the evaluation of information or data on specifications, stability, and/or PACMP that support site changes or additions.

As for the hybrid inspections, expected outcomes are represented by the identification of the best practices and standards in the quality assessment of post approval changes, including PACMPs, and of potential areas for alignment or harmonisation across regions.

A forum of discussion should be also created in order to facilitate convergence on the basis of such best practices. Each evaluation should lead to the preparation of lessons-learned summaries to share the acquired knowledge; new quality assessment guidance and standards might also be proposed, where appropriate.