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Pharmaceutical Regulations and Registration in the UK (MHRA)

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

Pharmaceutical regulation in the UK is a vital component of the nation's healthcare system, providing access to a wide range of pharmaceutical products. To ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of these products, stringent regulations are enforced by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).


Pharmaceutical Regulations in the UK

This articles outlines the pharmaceutical regulation and registration process in UK (MHRA)

Current Scenario of Pharmaceuticals in the UK:

The UK's prescription medicines market ranked sixth globally, is largely controlled by the National Health Service (NHS) and its 35,000 general practitioners. Despite slowing growth, it remains a significant part of NHS spending. While there is no national reimbursement list, the UK government employs strategies to manage medicines expenditures effectively by pharmaceutical compliance.


  • Health Authority Name and Legal Representation:

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). MHRA UK ensures that medicines and medical devices meet the required standards of safety, quality, and efficacy before they are approved for use in the UK market.

  • Product Classification:

a. Prescription-only Medicines (POM): Prescription required for obtaining these medicines.

b. Pharmacy Medicines (P): Pharmacist-supervised purchase from a registered pharmacy.

c. General Sales List Medicines (GSL): No professional supervision required; available retail.

  • Pre-registration Requirements:

Before initiating the MHRA drug licensing, pharmaceutical companies must compile a comprehensive dossier containing all relevant data from preclinical and clinical studies, manufacturing processes, and quality control procedures.


  • Registration process.

  1. Pre-Clinical Research: Pharmaceutical companies gather data on the drug's safety and efficacy before testing on humans.

  2. Investigational New Drug (IND) Application: Companies submit an IND application to MHRA to initiate clinical trials in humans.

  3. Clinical Trials UK: Drugs are tested in multiple phases, starting with Phase I trials on healthy volunteers, followed by Phase II and Phase III trials on patients with the targeted condition.

  4. New Drug Application (NDA): companies submit an NDA to the MHRA, containing comprehensive data on the drug's safety, efficacy, and manufacturing processes.

  5. MHRA Review: The MHRA UK reviews the NDA to evaluate the drug's benefits and risks, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements MHRA conducts GMP inspections for product integrity and safety. .

  6. MHRA Decision: Based on the NDA review, the MHRA decides to go forward with Drug manufacturing regulations UK to approve the drug for marketing in the UK.

  7. Post-Marketing Drug Surveillance UK: Once approved, the drug's continuously monitored through post-marketing surveillance and pharmacovigilance.

  8. Labeling and Packaging: Through Pharmaceutical product approval UK, Approved drugs require appropriate labeling as per Pharmaceutical labeling regulations UK and packaging that complies with MHRA guidelines in the UK.

  9. Drug Marketing Authorization UK: The MHRA grants the marketing authorization, allowing the drug's commercialization in the UK market.

  • EU/US Approval and Its Impact:

Approval of a pharmaceutical product in the EU or US can significantly expedite the registration process in the UK. The MHRA drug licensing process may accept data from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Import and Distribution Requirements:

Pharmaceutical products imported and distributed in the UK must meet specific quality and safety standards. Importers and distributors must adhere to the MHRA guidelines and have a Wholesale Distribution Authorization (WDA) to handle medicinal products.


  • Timeline and Associated Fees:

  • Preclinical Development: 1 to 3 years (approx.)

  • Phase I Clinical Trials: 1 to 2 years (approx.)

  • Phase II Clinical Trials: 2 to 3 years (approx.)

  • Phase III Clinical Trials: 2 to 4 years (approx.)

  • Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) Submission: 1 to 2 years (approx.)

  • MHRA Review: 1 to 2 years (approx.)

  • MHRA Decision: 6 months to 1 year.

The new application for registration of a pharmaceutical drug is £6,019 which includes £ 3,457 application fee plus a £2,562 assessment fee.

  • Post-marketing activities:

After a pharmaceutical product is approved and reaches the market, various post-marketing activities come into play:

  • Pharmacovigilance UK: Monitoring and reporting of adverse drug reactions and side effects.

  • Variations: Submitting updates or changes to the product's labeling or manufacturing process.

  • Renewal: Renew the marketing authorization periodically to ensure continued safety and efficacy.

  • Audits: Periodic inspections and audits to ensure compliance with regulations.


In conclusion, pharmaceutical regulation in the UK is overseen by MHRA regulation, ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical devices. Pharmaceutical compliance and vigilance are paramount for public health protection.


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