standardisation Archives - European Industrial Pharmacists Group (EIPG)

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

Environmental sustainability: the EIPG perspective


Piero Iamartino Although the impact of medicines on the environment has been highlighted since the 70s of the last century with the emergence of the first reports of pollution in surface waters, it is only since the beginning of the Read more

EU’s Industrial Forum, the future of advanced manufacturing technologies

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by Giuliana Miglierini

The expert group “Industrial Forum” is a multistakeholder body created by the European Commission to support the implementation of the Industrial Strategy launched in March 2020 and its following update of May 2021. Its members include Member States authorities, NGOs, industrial representations, research institutions and social partners representing different industrial ecosystems.

Its recently published report is the result of the structured dialogue among members on how to accelerate the deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies (AMTs) across the European industry. Among members which participated in the drafting of the document is also EuropaBio on behalf of the biomanufacturing industry.

Europe is leader in advanced manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing is based on the integration and convergence of the most advanced industrial technologies, i.e. automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and digitally connected solutions. New processes, new products as well as new business models based on this new approach are deemed to represent a fundamental competitive factor in the next few years.

Europe is currently well position in the ranking on “future of production” readiness, with 18 out of 25 countries considered by the World Economic Forum to be leading the change in manufacturing. Despite this, according to the report many efforts are still needed to accelerate the implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies in the EU, so not to be superseded by other fast-evolving competitors.

In order to achieve this challenging goal, the Industrial Forum identified seven different areas of attention, each of which is addressed by specific recommendations based on a SWOT analysis.

The seven areas of recommendation

The transition to new manufacturing models should, first of all, meet the EU sustainability goals established by the European Green Deal: the “net-zero industry” plan for renewables and industrial efficiency technologies is confirmed as a priority action, together with the expansion of the use of REPowerEU. The Commission is working on new energy savings directives, which should be timely implemented. Circularity of manufacturing processes and products is another main goal of EU’s industrial policies, to be supported by a set of new fit-for-purpose rules. A more rapid uptake of advanced manufacturing technologies should also be supported by both the availability of specific public procurement guidance and a targeted communication of the environmental benefits of European clean technologies.

The second area of action addresses how to improve access to capital, a key factor in ensuring the timely implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies. This may include a better use of public investment, as well as a cautious application of state aid instruments specifically targeted at later stages in the innovation and deployment process. The potential of these new technologies for sustainability should also be recognised within the upcoming EU Taxonomy de-legated acts.

The resilience of supply chains could be tackled by the rapid implementation of AMTs. In order to achieve this goal, the Industrial Forum highlighted the need for workable and proportionate rules on Due Diligence. No less important is the negotiation and activation of new Free Trade Agreements with third countries (such as the EU-Mercosur FTA). A critical area refers to the improvement of EU semiconductor capacity. According to the report, incentives and funding aimed to increase the supply chain resilience should be exempt from directing specific outcomes. The European institutions should also better support the local and regional industrial supply chains. Secure access to critical raw materials should be pursued by leveraging the trade policy.

The building of an EU Single Market is a main goal of the European Commission, also in the pharmaceutical field. Its freedoms should be safeguarded by narrowing down the scope of the Single Market Emergency Instrument, while promoting mitigation measures for advanced manufacturing. The Industrial Forum also recommends the availability of a single platform to provide companies with all the needed information to expand and/or export. Furthermore, a Single Market test should be included in the impact assessments of national laws to minimise the occurrence of gold-plating phenomena. New standards for AMTs would also be needed, an area which according to the Industrial Forum should conjugate an enhanced flexibility in standardisation requests and timely delivery in standard setting. Digital product standardisation should also be promoted, and adhesion to the New Legislative Framework should be ensured.

Data is a fundamental asset of the new economy. Recommendations in this area include supporting existing initiatives to create a strong European manufacturing data space, as well as ad-dressing the protection of both personal data and intellectual property rights and trade secrets. As artificial intelligence (AI) will assume an increasingly relevant role in future advanced manufacturing processes, the Forum recommends the development of clear, focused criteria on high-risk AI, while avoiding unnecessary regulation of industrial AI.

The availability of data should be pursued through the identification of a method for data collection in the advanced manufacturing category. It would also be important to generate trusted data sets at the European level for advanced manufacturing deployment, global competitive position, and economic / environmental / societal gains.

Many new skills will be needed in the next few years to handle the expansion of AMTs. To this instance, the Industrial Forum highlighted the importance to promote the harmonisation of Vocational Education and Training (VET) practices and qualification systems and to encourage women and girls to study STEM subjects and working in manufacturing. Other recommendations re-fer to the possibility of developing a Pact for Skills partnership and the proposal of a Blueprint Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing. A better entrepreneurial culture in Europe should also be promoted, as well as capitalisation on European creative industries.

Examples of biomanufacturing

Weaknesses to biomanufacturing identified by the Industrial Forum include the fact that it is still an emerging production process compared to chemical manufacturing. The report also mentions existing regulatory barriers, mainly linked to a process rather than product approvals pathway. Furthermore, significant investments in biomanufacturing are primarily located outside Europe. Possible risks identified by the report also refer to biomanufacturing being excluded or overlooked in key policymaking e.g. taxonomy supporting biomanufacture and sustainable financing.

The report includes two examples of AMTs linked to the health and agrifood sector. Chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T) represent one of the main areas of innovation in cancer treatment over the past two decades, in which the patient’s immune cells are engineered to produce the final immunotherapy. Many pharmaceutical companies are building specialised manufacturing facilities for CAR-T therapies within Europe, a biomanufacturing process which is highly complex and patient-specific, and requires long term investments, skills development, and integration into the European Union industrial base.

Biomanufacturing may also be applied to the production of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), that multi-step chemical synthesis is complex, requires hazardous agents and has low yields (~60%). Biotechnologies allow for the one-step production of vitamin B2, starting from vegetables as carbon sources and using a genetically modified bacterium (Bacillus subtilis) or fungus (Ashbya gossypii).


European Council’s conclusions on the European Innovation Agenda and research infrastructures

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by Giuliana Miglierini

The European socio-economic framework is undergoing a profound transformative moment, as a result of the new vision impressed by the von der Leyen Commission, with its goals in the field of the Digital and Green transitions. The subsequent crisis caused by the Covid pandemic and the following war at the boundaries of the European Union deeply impacted the already fragile economy, asking for new measures to sustain its competitiveness and ability to innovate.

A major goal of the Commission’s Agenda is to reposition the EU as a global leader in innovation. The European Council endorsed this vision at the beginning of December 2022, by adopting the Conclusions on the New European Innovation Agenda.

The recent crises have shown the need for the EU to support an open strategic autonomy in order to curb the dependencies and vulnerabilities that affect our industry. We have to strengthen the EU’s own capacity in strategic areas. This will not be possible without ambitious investments in innovation”, said Vladimír Balaš, Czech Minister for Education, Youth and Sport, commenting the document.

The European Council also adopted its new Conclusions on research infrastructures (RIs), which complement and complete the framework to support innovation and set the basis for the full development of the European Research Area (ERA).

According to the European Commission, almost two thirds of the EU’s growth is driven by innovation. Despite this, the EU still positions behind other countries as for Gross domestic product expenditure on R&D activities (2.18%, vs 4.52% of South Korea, 3.28% of Japan and 2.82% of the US. Only China slightly follows at 2.14%). The same trend applies also to business enterprise investments in R&D (EU 1.45%, vs 3.63% of South Korea, 2.6% Japan, 2.05% of the US, and 1.66% of China).

The new Innovation Agenda

The Conclusions on the New European Innovation Agenda are the result of a work started in November 2021, when the Council’s Recommendation on a Pact for Research and Innovation (R&I) in Europe highlighted the importance of synergies with sectorial policies and industrial policy, as well as the coordination of R&I policies and programmes to support the development of breakthrough and incremental innovations across the Union. The New European Innovation Agenda was announced by the Commission in July 2022 and is intended to fully exploit the potential of deep tech innovations. In September 2022, the Czech Presidency of the Council started the drafting of the conclusions, and the final text adopted by the Competitiveness Council (Research) at its meeting of 2 December 2022.

All types of innovation play a critical role in driving EU’s competitiveness, states the document, with a particular emphasis on research-driven innovation, deemed able of shaping and creating new markets. Incremental and breakthrough innovation are both essential to maximise the societal and economic value of the resulting outcomes. Investing in higher education and R&I is thus essential to achieve these goals, and to position the EU as a global R&I leader. Social sciences and humanities should also be part of the comprehensive approach to innovation described by the Conclusions.

The diversification of supplies and the mitigation measures to tackle strategic dependencies on external suppliers are critical issues to be faced to compete in the complex global geopolitical scenario. An open approach to international R&I cooperation is still the goal of the European institutions, requiring shared fundamental values and principles with other countries and a balanced and reciprocal approach.

At the regulatory level, flexibility, fit-for-purpose, forward-looking and innovation-friendly remain the preferred keywords to characterise the new framework. The development of breakthrough, deep-tech and disruptive innovations should be supported by standardisation and accreditation, and regulatory adaptation and experimentation.

The Council also supports the role of private R&I investments and strategic use of intellectual assets as a fundamental part of the undergoing transition, as well as further policy reforms at Union, national and regional levels to better encourage the full development and implementation of new technologies, including testing and demonstration facilities.

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund has been confirmed as the tool to support investments in innovation. Among others, the Conclusions ask the Commission to implement the EIC’s Scale Up 100 action and to facilitate access to capital for innovative start-ups and SMEs through the InvestEU Programme.

Conclusions on Research Infrastructures

The second document approved in December 2022 updates the vision of the European RI ecosystem, with a particular focus on the system of integrated research infrastructures. Access to RIs is deemed fundamental to support innovation by private, large and medium-small companies. It can take different forms, i.e. proprietary access to RIs, contractual research, joint R&I, training and industrial, supply of top-class products and services to RIs. Research infrastructures are also important to sustain regional development and support the availability of a wide range of skills and relating jobs.

A central part of document is represented by the call to proceed with the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda for the period 2022–2024 and, in particular, ERA Action 8 (“Strengthen sustainability, accessibility and resilience of RIs in the ERA”). To this instance, a major activity should aim to involve RIs in producing, collecting, processing, storing and providing quality certified scientific data in accordance with the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles. This action is considered essential to facilitate the sharing and use of data across a broad range of disciplines as well as at the international level.

To improve the RIs’ framework, the invitation of the Council is for the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) to run a comparative study aimed to identify best practices and elaborate recommendations to national and regional RI stakeholders by the end of 2023. A common approach for the staff of the RIs, especially in the case of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), is also envisaged.

Research infrastructures can’t operate without the support of Technology Infrastructures (TIs); a mapping exercises of the last ones is considered essential in order to proceed with the implementation of the TI concept within the ERA Policy Agenda. Members states and the Commission should also work to better identify the role of RIs in the implementation of Horizon Europe (i.e. European Partnerships and Missions, industrial technology roadmaps, etc.). RIs may also contribute to designing new services based on their different missions and should be supported by long-term investments by member states with the support of the Commission. To this instance, the analysis of possible types of financial support throughout RIs’ life cycle, with identification of good practices and synergies of various funding resources, should be accomplished by ESFRI.

The Council also invited the Commission to present an initiative on a revised European Charter for Access to Research Infrastructures by the end of 2023. A better coordination between ESFRI and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Steering Board would also be needed.


EMA’s OMS has turned mandatory for centrally authorised products

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by Giuliana Miglierini

Since November 1st, 2021, the use of the Organisation Management Service (OMS) became mandatory for all Centrally Authorised Products (CAPs). The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has published a Questions & Answers document to better explain the new procedures, that will impact the source of data to be used to exactly identify the organisations filing CAP procedures with EMA.

The progression in the implementation of the new provisions

The use of the OMS system is now compulsory for all organisations filing CAP submissions, with the final goal to improve the interoperability of data and the overall efficiency of the regulatory process. Should applicants lack to use OMS data, the relevant applications will be filtered out of the EMA’a validation procedure and sent back to the applicant for remedial action.

The OMS data management service was launched in 2015, and applied to electronic application forms (eAFs) since 2017, and then to many other types of procedures. The availability of OMS data may prove critical to allow the smooth implementation, in early 2022, of the new Clinical Trial Information System (CTIS) and of the Clinical Trial application procedure; during the next year, EMA plans to integrate the OMS also with the Union Product Database (UPD), Variation applications (via DADI project) and Manufacturing/Importers Authorisations (MIAs), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) inspections and Wholesale distribution authorisations (via EudraGMDP).

Validated OMS data also need to be used with reference to the “applicant” and “contact person affiliated organisation” sections of pre-submission applications. With the new eAF release (eAF V.1.25.0.0) for Medical Devices, the compulsory use of OMS data will also refer to the “Device Manufacturer”, “Notified Body” and “Companion diagnostic” sections.

Remediation in case of lack to use OMS data includes the insertion of all relevant information in the OMS database before updating and re-submitting the application form. Should applicants not provide sufficient responses, the application may be completely or partially invalidated.

Discussions are undergoing to further extend the use of OMS data also to National Procedures (NP); according to EMA, this may be turn inevitable in the next couple of years, as current eAF forms will be progressively replaced by web-based application forms (through the DADI project), being the latter the same for centrally and nationally authorised products by design.

Any question on the use of the OMS can be sent to EMA’s e-mail addresses specified in the Q&As document.

What is new for applicants

The use of OMS master data (the so-called “OMS Dictionary”) is now mandatory for both Human and Veterinary centralised procedures, namely those making use of eAFs (initial marketing authorization applications, variations applications, and renewals) and well as other procedures (see the Q&A document for more detail). The name and contact details of the contact person are not OMS data, and do not need to be registered with the system; historical organisational data do not have to be registered as well.

To manage a CAP procedure, applicants now need to first register their organisation data with the OMS, or request the update of data already registered by submitting a “Change Request” before filing of the regulatory application.

All requests will be assessed by EMA OMS Data stewards, that will also update data in the systems if the requirements are met. This validation step is fundamental to avoid duplication of data, as all information is checked against the same reference sources (i.e. national business registry, DUNS and/or GMP/MIA certificates) and standardised according to the OMS rules agreed with the Network. The Service Level Agreement provide for EMA to process 75% of OMS requests within five working days and 90% within ten working days. Changes will become visible in the eAF the day after they had been processed, and only upon active refresh of the relevant lists.

The business process which makes use of OMS data is usually responsible to submit such a request, but it can arise also form other parties. More specifically, EMA advises the user who needs to use the data should take the lead in updating it. This may prove relevant, for example, to ensure all manufacturer organisations are included in the OMS Dictionary as needed.

EMA warns applicants to consider the turnaround time for processing the OMS change request when planning to submit applications: even if the application forms will not immediately change and everything may appear as usual, the background process has been now modified and may need additional activities to validate the change requests.

Changes in the eAF templates are planned to remove the free text fields for CAP applications, but until the new models will be available, the free text field for “organisations” should not be used. Planned availability and entry into force of the new versions are December 2021 for Human procedures (v1.26.0.0) and January 28th, 2022 for Veterinary procedures (in line with the veterinary regulation).

How to access the OMS

EMA’s data management system refers to four different domains of data, including the substance, the product, the organisation and referential (SPOR) master data in pharmaceutical regulatory processes.

The SPOR portal provides access to the respective four specific areas of service (e.g. SMS for substances, PMS for products, OMS for organisations and RMS for referential). SPOR is the mechanism used by EMA to implement the ISO IDMP standards, as required by articles 25 and 26 of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 520/2012. Organisation master data, even if not covered by ISO IDMP, have been considered by EMA, National Competent Authorities and Industry in Europe to be essential in order to make the master data operating model work.

Applicants need to create an EMA account with SPOR user roles to conduct additional tasks, such as requesting changes to data, translating data or managing user preferences. Already granted credentials to access other active accounts for any EMA-hosted website or online application can also be used. OMS data can now no longer be captured in other EMA databases.

OMS master data include the organisation name and address, labelled by mean of unique identities (ID) (i.e. ‘Organisation_ID’ and ‘Location_ID’). Different categories of organisations are possible (i.e. ‘Industry’, ‘Regulatory Authority’ or ‘Educational Institution’), and of different size (i.e. ‘Micro’, ‘Small’, or ‘Medium’). The role played by a certain organisation is context-specific and cannot be defined within the OMS.