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A Manufacturer’s Guide for EU MDR

Oct 28, 2019 | Manufacturing, MDR, Medical Device

From 26th May 2020 MDR will come in to effect in EU Member States. This regulation will apply to all manufacturers who are selling medical devices within Europe.

How EU MDR affects medical device manufacturers

With recent updates to ISO 10993-1 and the MDR on track to replace Europe’s current Medical Device Directive (MDD), medical device manufacturers have to develop and execute action plans for necessary testing as soon as possible. These new and updated regulations place increased emphasis on the roles that robust data and complete evaluations play in supporting medical device safety.

If manufacturers don’t pursue gap analyses, conduct required chemical characterization and biological testing, assemble submissions, and move forward with registering devices under MDR, they have two other choices. One option is to end the life of the device in Europe, and the other option is to develop the next generation under MDR and extend the current product life under MDD.

Key findings from the new KPMG/RAPS survey

A recent KPMG/RAPS survey of more than 200 medical device industry leaders found that the majority (73%) don’t anticipate they will be fully compliant with MDR by the deadline, and almost half of respondents said they will likely discontinue or withdraw devices from the market because of the regulation.

What’s most striking about the KPMG/RAPS survey is how far behind the industry is. Just over a quarter of those surveyed plan to be fully compliant by the deadline, and 46% plan to leverage MDR’s transitional provisions to continue selling in Europe through 2024, while working on their compliance programs. Additionally, 66% have yet to plan for a systematic, long-term process to remain compliant moving forward.

Organizations are investing heavily in the initial compliance efforts, with 36% estimating more than $5 million in expenditures, but few are considering how to make these efforts sustainable. With the stricter requirements of maintaining a CE mark under MDR, manufacturers must begin planning for sustainable success, if they want to continue selling their devices in Europe. As the report states: “It is possible to manage the additional workload that sustainability will require if organizations start planning now for the two to five years after application of the regulation.” This isn’t just about meeting a one-time deadline. It’s about adhering to stricter guidelines for patient safety in an ongoing capacity.

Another telling result from the survey is the recurring theme of a lack of guidance. Manufacturers are struggling to wrap their heads around the new regulations, and the clock is ticking. This is one reason it’s so important to allocate internal resources to managing MDR compliance, but now is also a great time to enlist partnerships with others in the industry that can help educate around what exactly will be audited.

Potential delays

Many manufacturers are hoping Europe will delay implementation – but don’t count on it! Even if manufacturers are starting late there’s still time to catch up, but they’ll have to kick it into high gear. Those that sit idle are at risk of lengthy regulatory delays, added costs, and having their devices pulled from the EU market. The May 26th 2020 deadline is fast approaching, and it’s not likely that Europe will grant an extension on MDR.

How to prepare

If manufacturers haven’t started planning for MDR, the first step is to rationalize product portfolios. A common challenge in the rationalization process is a lack of clinical experience reports, particularly for legacy products. Unearthing relevant documents presents a time-consuming obstacle, involving diving into literature or seeking input to satisfy reporting requirements. This extra work is one reason older products should be prioritized in the rationalization process. Manufacturers should also remember to focus on products that have the highest market demand and return on investment.

Before partnering with a laboratory testing facility or Contract Research Organization (CRO), it is important to assemble an internal multi-disciplinary team of specialists. Since MDR is multifaceted, the team should include experts from quality, product, regulatory affairs and engineering departments to ensure that nothing is overlooked. Together, they can conduct a gap analysis on product lines and identify any missing or outdated information in technical files. To comply with the new requirements, notified bodies will not accept historic product data or performance reviews alone which is why it’s important to do this work before approaching a testing partner.

Once all of the necessary product information and technical file data has been gathered, it is time to develop a biological evaluation test plan. Many manufacturers opt to outsource their regulatory testing needs to a CRO or lab to accelerate the process and get devices in front of regulators before competitors. Being transparent and forthcoming with details, as well as giving lab partners visibility to forecasts, intervals, and timelines will set the manufacturer and lab up for success.

Regulatory guidance

Various organizations are conducting research and compiling insights in surveys, whitepapers, articles, webinars, etc. and KPMG and RAPS are great examples of industry thought leaders doing this. CROs and laboratory testing facilities are also good resources.

Not only is it important to stay on top of regulatory changes, it’s critical to understand how regulations are being interpreted by regulators. Manufacturers should choose a testing partner that spends time watching and interacting with regulators to understand their expectations on how testing is conducted. CROs or labs with international delegation on ISO committees and that collaborate with ISO by writing standards, participating in round robins, or offering other technical expertise can help manufacturers understand what regulators want on a deeper level.

The bottom line is that the industry impact of MDR is huge.

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