regulatory advice Archives - European Industrial Pharmacists Group (EIPG)

Lessons learnt to transition from Horizon 2020 to the new FP10


by Giuliana Miglierini The European Commission published the ex post evaluation of Horizon 2020 (H2020), the FP8 framework programme for research and innovation (R&I) run in years 2014-2020. The report identifies several areas of possible improvement, which may be taken into Read more

Approvals and flops in drug development in 2023


by Giuliana Miglierini Approvals and flops in drug development in 2023 The European Medicines Agency published its annual highlights, showing 77 medicines were recommended for marketing authorisation, and just 3 received a negative opinion (withdrawals were 19). In 2023 some highly expected Read more

Webinar: Oral Colon Drug Delivery - Design Strategies


EIPG webinar Next EIPG webinar is to be held on Wednesday 21st of February 2024 at 17.00 CET (16.00 GMT) in conjunction with PIER and University College Cork. Anastasia Foppoli, will discuss on the various approaches and the general aspects Read more

The new MHRA’s framework for clinical studies

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By Giuliana Miglierini

The repositioning of the United Kingdom as a global leader for clinical development of medicinal products can now benefit of the complete renewal of the framework regulating clinical studies run in the country. Announced in March 2023 by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the new set of measures represents the deepest reform of the sector in the last 20 years. The new package is based upon results of the public consultation run in Q1 2022 in partnership with the Health Research Authority (HRA) and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which collected more than 2,000 responses.

As stated in the foreword of the final document, which details the government’s consideration of responses to individual questions, the main objective of the reform is for the UK to capitalise on the opportunity offered by the country’s new position in the global clinical trial landscape. Furthermore, it represents just the initial step of UK’s new regulatory approach, which may include for example a wider use of real-world evidence, novel analytics and data tools. International collaborations are also deemed important, e.g. with the FDA’s Project Orbis and the Access Consortium (Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland) and the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals of Human Use.

Our world-first Covid-19 approvals showed how important it is to ensure that regulation is flexible and agile. This overhaul of the clinical trials legislation will do just this – it will move us away from a one-size-fits-all approach to the regulation of clinical trials and help to streamline approvals by removing granular and duplicative regulatory requirements”, said MHRA Chief Science and Innovation Officer Marc Bailey.

According to the Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay, the reform will make the UK more attractive for scientists and researchers. “These changes will help speed up clinical trials, without compromising on safety, and encourage the development of new and better medicines for patients. They come after the government announced additional funding of £10 million for the MHRA to accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge treatments including cancer vaccines”, he said.

The main goals of the reform

Patients are central to the UK’s reform of clinical trials. While efficacy and safety of new medicines under development remain the main target, great attention should be paid to reduce health disparities. To this instance, the MHRA announced the issuing of new guidance on how to ensure diversity of participants enrolled in trials, so to overcome imposed targets or arbitrary quotas. The improved attention to diversity would also support the delivery of trial results more adherent to the effective prevalence and clinical need across the population.

Flexibility and proportionality of the regulatory environment is another key objective of the reform. According to the final document, regulatory requirements should adapt to the current risk of the trial, and researcher should become subject to an overarching duty to consider proportionate approaches to clinical development.

Simplification of regulatory procedures is also expected, for example in the case of studies characterised by a risk similar to that of standard medical care. In this instance, regulatory review of the study protocol should not be needed anymore, substituted by simple “notification scheme” to enable approval.

As said, the attractiveness of the UK as a leading destination for international trials should be supported by streamlined and efficient application processes. This goal should include a new legislative action to integrate the regulatory and ethics reviews of clinical trial applications. Results from a pilot phase will be taken into consideration, as they proved possible to halve the approval times and cut the time from application to recruiting a first patient by 40 days.

All activities relating to clinical development should reflect the ICH Good Clinical Practice (GCP) principles for trial conduct. Regulatory timelines for approval are expected to compete at the international level, so to encourage sponsors to choose the UK as the preferred site to conduct multinational trials. According to the MHRA, the review of an application should take a maximum of 30 days in general, with a maximum of 10 calendar days for a decision to be granted once the regulator has received any final information. As for GCPs, compliance should also extend to service providers of electronic systems that may impact on patient safety.

Sponsors should also benefit from greater flexibility to respond to questions raised by regulators. In particular, the reform aims to amend the Request for Information (RFI) receipt, so that the sponsor has access to RFIs as they are ready rather than waiting for all requests to be made together.

The reform takes in consideration also the possible impact of incoming innovation, for example different types of trials and innovative study designs (e.g. decentralised trials). New guidance should be provided to set out specific details, thus avoiding any duplication. Guidance should be also provided on how to involve patients; family members or carers having a direct experience of the health problem in the design and conduct of a trial.

Transparency of the entire process should be supported by the compulsory registration of the trial in a World Health Organisation public register. A summary of results should also be published within 12 months of the end of the trial, and trial findings should be mandatory shared with trial participants.

Comments from the industry

We welcome the MHRA and HRA’s commitment to work with our industry to codevelop new regulatory guidance and their pragmatic approach to patient & public involvement and trial diversity. We look forward to working with them to make the UK an attractive destination for clinical trials.”, said Richard Torbett, ABPI Chief Executive.

On 19 May, ABPI further commented from is blog the current situation of clinical development in the UK. According to the association representing the British pharmaceutical industry, enrolment to industry trials decreased by 44% between 2017 and 2021, while UK’s global ranking for phase III trials dropped to the 10th place (from the previous 4th). ABPI also reports revenues and cost savings to NHS England from life sciences companies of more than £10,000 for every patient recruited onto an industry clinical trial between 2016 and 2018.

In view of the release of the independent review commissioned by the government to former innovation minister Lord O’Shaughnessy, ABPI has identified three main steps necessary to support the international competitiveness of UK’s clinical trials sector.

Rapid and smooth regulatory procedures are at the first place, with the request not to delay from the 60 days target for combined regulatory and ethics review, comprehensive of the administrative processes of costing and contracting a clinical trial. Early scientific and regulatory advice and sufficient resources for the MHRA to clear the current backlogs and codevelop new regulatory guidance would be also important.

ABPI also highlights the often-experienced difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of patients. The suggestion for the government is to take inspiration from UK’s leading position in early-phase (phase I) industry trials in order to improve investment in late-phase trial infrastructure. To this instance, health real-world data may prove important to support the search for eligible patients in a larger population.

According to the industrial representative, the UK is also lacking a nationwide clinical research dashboard to describe its performance in clinical research to global sponsors. This should include metrics on volume, speed, quality, impact, and innovation.


The new guideline on combination products between medicines and medical devices

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by Giuliana Miglierini

The new “Guideline on quality documentation for medicinal products when used with a medical device” (EMA/CHMP/QWP/BWP/259165/2019), adopted by the European Medicines Agency in July 2021, will come into force starting 1st January 2022.

The first draft of the guideline was presented in May 2019; according to EMA, the document aims to solve the often observed issues of inconsistent and/or incomplete data submitted to competent authorities. It also considers the amendment to Annex I of Directive 2001/83/EC introduced by Article 117 of the new Medical Devices Regulation ((EU)2017/745, MDR).

A Questions and Answers document to support in the implementation of the MDR and In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Regulations ((EU) 2017/746) was also published by EMA in June 2021.

Three different combinations with medical devices

The guideline applies to the product-specific quality aspects of a medical device/device part, that may have an impact on the quality, safety and/or efficacy of the associated medicinal product, as defined by a specific risk assessment. The submitted documentation is part of the Quality part of a marketing authorisation dossier. Makers has also to prove the conformity of the device/device part to MDR’s requirements by mean of a EU Declaration of Conformity or CE certification released by the Notified Body that assessed the device.

The products covered by the new guideline include integral products made up of an integral and not reusable combination of the medical device/device part and the medicinal product (where the action of the medicinal product is principal), medical devices placed on the market co-packaged with a medicinal product, and referenced medicinal products to be used in conjunction with a specific medical device described in the product information (SmPC and/or package leaflet) and obtained separately by the user. The classification in one of the above mentioned categories of medicine/device combination impacts the information that should be submitted to competent authorities.

The guideline applies also to medicinal products intended to be used with a Class I medical devices, with electromechanical devices (including active implantable devices), electronic add-ons and digital elements of devices (if expected to impact the benefit-risk assessment of the medicinal product from a quality perspective). Combined advanced therapy products defined under Article 2(1)(d) of the ATMP Regulation fall out of the scope of Article 117, as well as veterinary products, in-vitro diagnostic devices (including companion diagnostics), system and procedure packs regulated under Article 22 of the MDR.

Examples of integral products include medicinal products with an embedded sensor performing an ancillary action, single-use prefilled syringes, pens or injectors, drug-releasing intrauterine devices or pre-assembled, non-reusable applicators for vaginal tablets, dry powder inhalers and preassembled, ready-to-use pressurised metered dose inhalers, implants containing medicinal products whose primary purpose is to release the medicinal product. For this type of products, the safety and performance of the device/device part has to reflect the relevant General Safety and Performance Requirements (GSPRs) described in Annex I of the MDR.

Examples of co-packaged or specifically referenced medical devices include spoons and syringes used for oral administration, injectors needles, refillable or reusable pens/injectors, dry powder inhalers and metered dose inhalers, nebulisers and vaporisers and single use or reusable pumps for medicinal product delivery. These two categories of products should comply with the requirements of the applicable medical device legal framework.

The approach to the overall product quality

The discussion of the quality of the device/device part on the Quality Target Product Profile (QTPP), Critical Quality Attributes (CQA) and overall control strategy of the medicinal product has to be included in the regulatory dossier.

More specifically, for integral products the EU Declaration of Conformity or the relevant EU certificate issued by a Notified Body for the device/device part has to be produced. Should this not be possible, the applicant has to provide an opinion (NBO) on the conformity of the device/device part with the relevant GSPRs, issued by a Notified Body enlisted in the NANDO website.

The information provided with the authorisation dossier shall be assessed by the competent authority to determine the overall benefit/risk ratio of the medicinal product. All information relevant to the device/device part has to be submitted using the usual eCTD format. Data on preexisting combination of the device/device part with an already approved medicinal product can be provided on a case-by-case basis and needs to be adequately justified. Early scientific and/or regulatory advice can be activated in the case of particularly innovative and emerging technologies.

The guideline provides a detailed description of the information to be submitted to competent authorities in relation to each of the different types of device/medicinal products combinations.

Reference is made to Module 1 (Product Information), Module 3.2.P (Drug Product), Module 3.2.A.2 (Adventitious Agents Safety Evaluation) and Module 3.2.R (Regional Information, Medical Device). This last section includes the Notified Body Opinion for integral medicinal products in the form of a summary technical report. Usability studies should be also available in the case supporting information is not included in the dossier, and the device/device part has not been used in the intended user population before, or where other aspects of the intended use, including changes to the clinical setting or use environment, are new or different from the intended use as confirmed by the EU certificate issued by a Notified Body or NBO.

The guideline also highlights the need the device/device part should be as advanced as possible in the development process (e.g. meets relevant GSPRs) by the time pivotal clinical trials commence. Any change to the device occurred during the trials has to be described, evaluated and justified with respect to the potential impact on the quality, safety and/or efficacy of the medicinal product. The guideline also provides information on how to manage the life cycle of the integral, co-packaged or referenced medicinal products.