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Medical Devices Regulations in European Union (EU MDR)

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

The medical devices market in Europe has exhibited impressive value, surpassing USD 140.07 billion in 2022. Experts predict that this market will continue to experience substantial growth, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.09%. By the year 2027, the market is expected to reach an estimated value of around USD 171.19 billion. This robust expansion can be attributed to various factors fueling the demand for medical devices in Europe.


Advancements in technology, coupled with an expanding healthcare infrastructure, play a pivotal role in driving this growth. The European Union (EU) follows medical device regulations that safeguard patient health and provide a regulatory framework for manufacturers.


European Union EU MDR Medical Device Regulations:

In recent years, there has been a major overhaul of the regulatory framework governing medical devices in the EU. The previous directives have been replaced by the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) and In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation (IVDR) which seek to bolster patient safety and tighten the regulation of medical devices.


Legal Representation:

In order to comply with regulatory obligations, medical device and pharmaceutical companies originating from non-EU regions must designate a legal representative based within the European Union who will assume the responsibility of facilitating communication with relevant regulatory authorities.


Product Classification:

In the European Union, medical devices undergo a classification process to determine their level of risk. This classification, outlined in Annex VIII of the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) 2017/745, divides them into four distinct classes. Let's delve into each class and explore the types of devices that fall within them:


a. Class I - This class encompasses low-risk devices. Examples include everyday medical essentials like tongue depressors and bandages. These devices are considered to pose the least amount of risk to patients.


b. Class IIa - Devices in this class are classified as medium-risk. They include a range of medical devices such as hearing aids and infusion pumps. These devices have a slightly higher risk level than Class I devices but are still considered to be relatively safe for patient use.


c. Class IIb - In this class, we encounter devices that present a moderate to high level of risk. Examples include cardiac implants and X-ray machines. These devices require a greater degree of scrutiny and regulation due to the potential risks associated with their usage.


d. Class III - Finally, we arrive at the high-risk category. Class III devices pose the greatest level of risk to patients. This class includes devices like implantable pacemakers and heart valves, which are critical and complex in nature.


Labeling Requirements:

The MDR has established clear guidelines for labelling medical devices. Labels must include essential information like device identification, intended purpose, instructions, warnings, and manufacturer details.


Clinical Trial Requirements:

Medical device manufacturers are required to conduct clinical trials under the Clinical Trials Regulation (CTR) 536/2014. These trials are particularly important for high-risk devices, such as those in Class III, as they help demonstrate the safety and performance of these products.


Testing Requirements:

Medical devices undergo conformity assessment procedures, including testing, to ensure compliance with EU regulations. The specific testing requirements vary depending on the device's classification and intended use.


Foreign Testing Applicability:

In the European Union (EU), testing data generated outside of the EU is generally accepted. This means that manufacturers can rely on testing done in other countries to demonstrate conformity with EU regulations. However, it is important to note that certain conditions and requirements must be met for this acceptance. The EU typically recognizes testing data from countries that have well-established regulatory bodies and mutual recognition agreements in place. These arrangements are aimed at ensuring consistent standards and the reliability of testing data for medical devices.


Pre-registration Requirements:

Manufacturers do not have to pre-register their medical devices with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or other Competent Authorities. However, it is crucial for them to ensure that their devices comply with all relevant regulations before they can be placed on the market.


Registration Process:

In the European Union (EU), the conformity assessment process is applied to medical devices. This process consists of several steps to ensure compliance with regulations:


1. For higher-risk devices, a Notified Body must be designated.

2. Technical documentation and a Declaration of Conformity must be prepared.

3. The documentation is then submitted to the Notified Body for evaluation.

4. If the assessment is successful, the manufacturer is issued a Certificate of Conformity.

5. The device needs to be registered in EUDAMED, the EU database (when fully operational).


EU/US Approvals and Progressing Registration:

Obtaining approvals from the US FDA or other countries does not automatically guarantee approval in the European Union (EU). However, these approvals can provide valuable support by contributing to the necessary clinical and safety data required for EU registration. It is important to note that EU approval still follows a separate and distinct process.


Import and Distribution Requirements:

Manufacturers and distributors are obligated to adhere to import and distribution regulations. These include securing a valid CE marking for the device, maintaining accurate records, and promptly furnishing requested information to relevant authorities


List of Documents Required:

In regulatory compliance, there are several essential requirements manufacturers and distributors must fulfil.


a. Technical Documentation (Annex II, MDR): This includes comprehensive details about the device such as its description, design, manufacturing information, risk assessment, clinical evaluation, and labeling.


b. Declaration of Conformity (Annex IV, MDR): This is a declaration stating that the device fully complies with all the relevant regulations within the European Union.


c. Clinical Evaluation Report (CER): This report serves as crucial evidence demonstrating the device's safety and performance, based on a thorough evaluation of the available clinical data.


GMP Inspection Requirements:

Authorities and notified bodies to perform Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspections to ensure that manufacturers adhere to quality standards throughout a device's lifespan. These inspections play a crucial role in verifying compliance with regulations, which in turn helps maintain consistent quality and safety standards for the benefit of end-users.


Timeline and Associated Fees:

In May 2024, all EC certificates issued or renewed within the past five years or four years from the MDR application date (May 27, 2020) will be valid. However, by May 2025, devices certified under the MDD will no longer be permitted for sale or distribution.


The European Medicines Agency (EMA) enforces fees for its services, which are regulated by the fee regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 297/95) and its implementing rules. Moreover, the pharmacovigilance fee regulation (Regulation (EU) No 658/2014) oversees the fees associated with pharmacovigilance services provided by the agency.


Marketing Authorization Application: From €345,800

Extension of Marketing Authorization (Level I) and Type-II Variation: €103,800 each

Variations Requiring Assessment: From €8,600

Scientific Advice: From €51,800 to €103,800

Annual Fee (Level I): €123,900


Post-Marketing Activities:

Here are important aspects manufacturers need to consider for ensuring compliance with CE marking regulations:


a. Pharmacovigilance: To prioritize patient safety, manufacturers should establish a strong pharmacovigilance system. This system enables them to diligently monitor and report any adverse events linked to their devices.


b. Variations: Any modifications in a device's design or intended use require careful assessment and approval from the Notified Body.


c. Renewal: Continuing to market devices within the European Union necessitates regular review and renewal of the CE marking. Manufacturers must proactively manage this process to avoid any interruptions in their device's availability.


d. Audits: Competent Authorities have the authority to conduct post-market audits to assess ongoing compliance. Manufacturers should be prepared for such audits to demonstrate the continued adherence to regulatory requirements and facilitate the maintenance of market access.


Conclusion:

In the European Union, the regulatory environment for medical devices is constantly evolving. Manufacturers need to stay updated and adhere to the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) and other applicable regulations to guarantee the safety and efficacy of their devices for patients in the EU market.


References:


European Commission - Medical devices: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/medical-devices_en

Medical Device Regulation (MDR) - Regulation (EU) 2017/745: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2017/745/oj

In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation (IVDR) - Regulation (EU) 2017/746: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2017/746/oj

European Database on Medical Devices (EUDAMED): https://ec.europa.eu/health/md_eudamed_en

European Medicines Agency - Medical Devices: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/overview/medical-devices


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