New Head of EMA
Emer Cooke is the new Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency. Emer took over as head of the EMA on November 16, 2020. Emer said her priorities for the Agency would be the access and affordability of medicines.
Clinical Trial Regulation Implementation
The Clinical Trials (CT) Regulation 536/2014 published on May 28, 2014 has yet to be implemented as it requires a new portal, the Clinical Trials Information System (CTIS), to be operational for new processes to be functional. At its Management Board meeting on June 11, the EMA proposed December 2021 as the go-live date for the CTIS and CT regulation implementation.
Once the CTIS goes live, a three-year transition period to the new system will commence. In the first year of this transition, sponsors of clinical trials will be allowed to submit applications using either the existing EudraCT system or the CTIS. In years two and three, new CTA applications must be done via the CTIS. Trials authorized via EudraCT can continue but must be transferred to the CTIS by end of the three-year transition period.
On June 25, 2020, a Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) Assessment Report recommended extending the requirement to conduct a risk assessment to consider the possibility of the presence of nitrosamine contamination to biological medicinal products. This requirement applies to both new marketing authorization applications and all existing products.
In August 2020, the EMA provided a deadline for the completion of the risk assessments and report of the outcome for biological products and, at the same time, further extended the deadline for products with chemically produced APIs to:
March 31, 2021 for chemical medicines
July 1, 2021 for biological medicines
In December 2020, the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) Commission adopted a new general chapter on the analysis of N-nitrosamine impurities in active substances (2.5.42, previously listed as 2.4.36).
Water Quality Guideline
In July 2020, the EMA issued an update to the “Guideline on the quality of water for pharmaceutical use,” which becomes effective on February 1, 2021. This revision is the first in 18 years.
The guidance lists the four types of water that can be used for manufacturing drug substances and finished drug products:
Water for injection, which is mainly used for sterile products
Purified water, which is used for non-sterile products and certain active substances
Potable water, which can be used for manufacturing active substances and the early stages of cleaning equipment
Water for the preparation of extracts, which is a new category for herbal products
This new guidance permits the use of potable water for producing the fermentation media and cell culture media in making active substances for biological products, whereas the preceding draft called for using higher-grade purified water for producing such media.
On December 24, 2020, the EU and UK finally agreed to a trade deal. Annex TBT-2 of this trade deal contains the agreed provisions for medicinal products. The agreement applies to the following medicinal products for human and veterinary use:
Marketed medicinal products for human or veterinary use, including marketed biological and immunological products for human and veterinary use
Advanced therapy medicinal products
Active pharmaceutical ingredients for human or veterinary use
Investigational medicinal products
The agreement includes the following:
Mutual recognition of GMP inspections. Unfortunately, this agreement is not a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) and does not include removing the requirement for re-testing of product made in the UK on importation into the EU, and vice versa. For political reasons this requirement may not be removed for several years, if ever.
Notable absences from the trade agreement include any mention of herbal medicinal products or medical devices. Also absent is any arrangement for a two-way alert system or pharmacovigilance information sharing.
From January 1, 2021, the MHRA has published a library of new guidance that applied as the transition period came to an end. This guidance covers the following areas:
Importing and exporting
The 2020 ICH biannual meetings, scheduled to be held in Canada in May and Greece in November, were both converted to virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global travel restrictions. The next ICH meeting is scheduled for June 2021 in South Korea.
In October 2020, the assembly endorsed the concept paper for the revision of Q9, Quality Risk Management. The concept paper for Q9 (R1) lists four areas for improvement with the current application of QRM:
High levels of subjectivity in risk assessments and in QRM outputs
Product availability risks
Lack of understanding as to what constitutes formality in QRM work
Lack of clarity on risk-based decision-making