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Medical Device Regulation: 4 Steps to prepare your clinical evidence
24-09-2018

#Medical Device Regulation: 4 Steps to prepare your clinical evidence

It’s been looming for a while now: the new MDR. There’s been a lot of talk about how it will affect companies in different ways. For instance, we wrote this blog on “why it’s a good plan to start preparing because otherwise, it’ll probably cost you money in the end”. From this point onwards, we will be sharing blogs on specific topics to help you prepare.

In this one, we will provide you with some strategies to prepare for the increased need for clinical data & evidence to CE mark your device. So let’s get started:

Initiation of the increased requirements for clinical evidence was actually already initiated with the last revisions of the MEDDEV guidance documents with the MDD still being in place. The further increase in the number of articles referring to clinical evidence in the MDR illustrates this huge increase of focus:

  • the MDD mentions clinical investigations in 1 article
  • the MDR has 12 articles on pre CE marking activities and 10 on post-CE-marking activities regarding clinical evidence.

Medical Device Regulation (MDR)

Medical Device Directive (MDD)

CHAPTER VI: CLINICAL EVALUATION AND CLINICAL INVESTIGATIONS: Article 61 to article 82

 

CHAPTER VII: POST-MARKET SURVEILLANCE, VIGILANCE AND MARKET SURVEILLANCE: Article 83 to article 92

 

And associated annexes XIV, XV

Article 15 with reference to Annex X: clinical evaluation requirements

WHO SHOULD BE WORRIED?

The increase in requirements for clinical evidence is also visible in the behavior of the Notified bodies. When manufacturers currently submit their technical files for obtaining the CE mark, they already experience that the need for more robust clinical evidence is requested. More importantly, manufacturers also experience the increased need for clinical evidence during re-certification of their device. Examples are already available about manufacturers that aren’t granted prolongation of the CE mark on their device with the result that it has to be withdrawn from the market. These examples are not limited to small start-up companies or to high-risk class devices: there are also established companies that were faced with no prolongation of certification until they were able to provide the necessary clinical evidence. Moreover, there are examples of low-risk class devices that lost their CE mark too.

It can even be that manufacturers with low-risk devices are more at risk regarding the extension of the CE mark because the gap been new requirements and the available clinical evidence might be bigger than for high-risk, class III, devices.

WAITING IS NOT AN OPTION

All currently certified Medical Devices must be re-certified in accordance with these new requirements. Because certification might be for a period of 3 years, the result is that a device that is CE marked just before May 2020 under the MDD may bear the CE mark for the next 3 years up to 2023. However, the MDR implies that PMS activities (Chapter VII) apply in full force as of May 2020. That means that when the PMS activities show that the clinical data is not sufficient your medical device needs a design change (or change in Instructions For Use) or is at risk for losing its CE mark. Also, the new MDR does not allow for grandfathering meaning that products that are currently on the market will not automatically be approved to stay on the market.

So what steps do MD companies need to undertake?

1. ASSESSMENT OF CLINICAL EVIDENCE

First, companies are well advised to perform an analysis of their current clinical evidence (Clinical Evaluation Report) in reference to the MDR. Three likely outcomes could be:

  • All is fine, ‘no worries’.
  • Major issues meaning there’s a lot of work and you should start rather sooner than later
  • So many issues that you consider discontinuing your product and withdraw it.

This implies that companies with products on the market within the European Union who find themselves in the second category will need to come up with a transition plan to be compliant with these new rules and they have until May 25th, 2020 to do so. In a previous blog, we already explained the options and respective consequences (MDD -> MDR) suggesting that action should be taken in a timely fashion.

2. CLINICAL STRATEGY

Based on the assessment outcome, a clinical strategy proves to be very useful. The clinical evaluation plays a central role in this process. The MDR describes that the process is started with a clinical evaluation plan during the development process of the product. During this phase of the products life cycle, the clinical evaluation used to be finalized and included in the submission package to the NB, under the MDD. Under the MDR, the process of clinical evaluation continues during the life cycle of the product, and depending on the risk class of the product, needs to be updated regularly. E.g. for class IIB and III, this needs to be done annually, even when your device is CE marked under the MDD as described above.

We could identify several main options depending on the extent of the necessary upgrade. The clinical evaluation report needs updating:

  • An update of literature data (together with vigilance) seems to be sufficient
  • An update of literature data alone is insufficient:
    • Clinical data needs to be collected via a clinical investigation
    • Clinical data needs to be collected via Medical Device Vigilance (article 87 and 88) and PMCF (Annex III - 1.1 - b)

3. CLINICAL STUDIES

To extend the clinical data or evidence, you can perform an investigation or post-market follow up study (PMCF). In case you are considering to extend the intended use, this might be the best moment to start a clinical investigation. It will help you to increase the clinical evidence but also broaden the intended use at the same time. If you only need to increase the clinical data, a PMCF might be more applicable and cost-effective.

4. PLANNING

As a manufacturer of CE marked products, you should carefully plan to ensure that the most efficient solution for meeting the requirements for clinical evidence is found and implemented in time. You do not want to lose your CE certificate and thereby access to the marked and your revenue. A timely upgrade of your clinical evaluation to meeting the MDR requirements will lead to the highest chances for success. It will also help you to identify if additional actions are required to collect the clinical evidence.

CONSIDERATIONS

Wrapping up we’d like to emphasize that it all boils down to timing from this points onwards, Beware that the deadline of May 2020 is less than two years away. Being aware of the upgrade requirements for your medical device assures business continuity.

So:

  1. Assess your current clinical evidence
  2. Set up a clinical strategy accordingly
  3. Perform additional clinical studies if needed
  4. Plan your improvements

If you would like some more specific information on the clinical strategy in line with the regulatory requirements, do not hesitate to leave us a message.

Blog by: Jan Bart Hak


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