Medical Devices - Topics of Interest

Overview

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This topic gathers information and links on issues that are relevant for the implementation of the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR). Therefore, the number of areas is vast. In addition, the content does not target specific actors and is organised by alphabetical order.

Custom-made devices

A 'custom-made device’ is made according to a written instruction by any person authorised by national law through their professional qualifications. This leads to specific design characteristics unique to that device. Such a device is for the sole use of a particular patient and exclusively to meet their individual conditions and needs.

Mass-produced devices that are adapted to meet the specific requirements of any professional user are not considered custom-made devices. This includes adapted versions of devices that are mass-produced through industrial manufacturing according to written instructions by an authorised person.

See MDR Article 52 (8) and Annex XIII - procedure for custom-made devices

Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting of health products is a serious and growing concern, since this practice endangers patients’ safety and health. A counterfeit medical device is one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity and source. The EU’s combat against counterfeiting is part of a general regional and international effort to offer authentic devices to populations.

The consequences of counterfeiting are numerous.

  • Health and safety: Counterfeit medical devices can have adverse effects, including potentially lethal consequences, as they are often non-sterile, of poor quality, contain inappropriate materials and be of questionable effectiveness
  • Economic: Counterfeit medical devices distort competition, damage legitimate producers’ interests and their brand names, undermine employment and reduce tax income. Manufacturers can experience loss of sales and see their reputation tarnished if the counterfeit medical device uses their company’s trademark.

The Commission issued a study on distribution channels dealing with counterfeit issues. The goal is to assist and encourage the development and implementation of government policies and regulations that combat and dissuade the production and trade of counterfeit medical devices.

European Medical Devices Nomenclature

The European Medical Device Nomenclature (EMDN) will be the nomenclature of use by manufacturers when registering their medical devices in the EUDAMED database.

Founded on pre-established criteria and requirements and based on orientations provided by the Medical Device Coordination Group (MDCG), the European Commission decided in favour of the use of the ‘Classificazione Nazionale Dispositivi medici’ (CND) as the basis for the EMDN.

Currently, an extraordinary revision of the CND is ongoing so that to release the first version of the EMDN, which will be integrated in EUDAMED for use by operators.

The EMDN will be fully available and accessible to any operators and will be copyright free.

Financing

The programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), COSME, is improving access to finance through 2 financial instruments.

Financing for SME/EU for business/COSME

Harmonised European standards

Harmonised European standards under the medical devices Regulations are developed by CEN and Cenelec as European standardisation organisations, on the basis of a Standardisation Request issued by the Commission according to Regulation (EU) 1025/2012. Once their references are published by the Commission in the Official Journal of the European Union, the voluntary use of those standards confer presumption of conformity with the requirements of the Regulations they aim to cover.

In-house medical devices

Health institutions have the possibility to manufacture, modify and use devices in-house. Thereby, they address the specific needs of target patient groups on a non-industrial scale. This applies especially if these needs cannot be met at the appropriate level by an equivalent device available on the market. With that in mind, certain rules of the Regulation should not apply since its aims would still be met proportionately (MDR and In Vitro Diagnostic Regulation, IVDR Article 5(5)).

This applies specifically to medical devices manufactured and used strictly in health institutions. Examples include hospitals, but also laboratories and public health institutes that support the healthcare system and/or address patient needs, but do not treat or care for patients directly.

The concept of ‘health institution’ does not cover establishments primarily claiming to pursue health interests or healthy lifestyles, such as gyms, spas, wellness and fitness centres. As a result, the exemption for health institutions does not apply to such establishments.

Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) works to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines. Particularly, in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. IMI does this by facilitating collaboration between key players in healthcare research, including

  • universities
  • research centres
  • pharmaceutical and other industries
  • SMEs
  • patient organisations
  • medicine regulators

IMI is the world's biggest public-private partnership (PPP) in the life sciences. It is a partnership between the EU (represented by the European Commission) and the European pharmaceutical industry (represented by EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations). Through the IMI2 programme, there is a €3.3 billion budget for the period 2014-2020.

Under IMI2, MD or IVD manufacturers can become an IMI Associated Partner.

How to become an IMI associated partner

Notified bodies

A notified body is an organisation designated by an EU Member State (or by other countries under specific agreements) to assess the conformity of certain products before being placed on the market.

Notified Bodies: designations, legislation and guidance documents

Borderline devices

The so-called borderline products are those for which it is not clear whether they fall under the medical devices legislation or another piece of legislation.

These cases are of great concern to EU countries, the European Commission and other stakeholders since they can lead to different interpretations within the EU, and as a consequence, may put public health at risk and distort the single market.

To ensure a uniform approach, the Commission tries to facilitate a dialogue between regulators and industry, where diverse interpretations exist.

The list of members of the Borderline and Classification Medical Devices Expert Group is available online, alongside the Manual on Borderline and Classification in the Community Regulatory Framework for Medical Devices (May 2019).

Software and apps

Software and mobile applications that fall under the definition of a medical device or an in-vitro diagnostic medical device are regulated by the respective Directives 93/42/EEC or 98/79/EC. See the texts on Directive 93/42/EEC and Directive 98/79/EC

In the context of borderline cases, the most relevant document is the MEDDEV Guidance 2.1/6, entitled “Guidelines on the qualification and classification of stand-alone software used in healthcare within the regulatory framework of medical devices”. Released by the Commission services in January 2012 (and updated in July 2016), the document provides practical advice to manufacturers, organisations and public authorities on how to determine when a software falls under the definition of a medical device or of an in-vitro diagnostic medical device. Such criteria apply also to mobile applications.

Please note the qualification and classification issues rely primarily on EU countries.

Should the mobile application be regulated by one of the mentioned directives, the manufacturer, with a view to affix the CE mark, would then be required to follow the appropriate conformity procedure. Such procedure may require, according to the device risk class, an application to one of the notified bodies recognised by the EU. For class I devices, however, a self-assessment is sufficient.

The legislative framework on medical devices has been revised and 2 new regulations will become progressively applicable until 2021 and 2022. The new rules contain dedicated requirements for medical device software, apps, cybersecurity and clinical and performance evaluation.

In the context of borderline cases under the Regulations, please refer to guidance on MDCG 2019-11, entitled Guidance on Qualification and Classification of Software in Regulation (EU) 2017/745 – MDR and Regulation (EU) 2017/746 – IVDR'.