New IVDR Transitional Periods

The EU has extended the transitional periods for Regulation 2017/746 on in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDR) in an urgent procedure, as announced in a recent press release. But this does not change the date of application of the regulation. This remains May 26, 2022. However, the new deadlines give manufacturers and notified bodies a little more breathing space to get their IVD devices through the conformity procedure.

As a result, the new regulations could, among other things, prevent IVDs from disappearing from the market en masse in May 2022.

Read on to find out what the new deadlines are and what they mean for you.

1. Overview of the new transitional periods

a) What is new in the regulation amending the IVDR?

Above all, the amendments give manufacturers of devices that require the involvement of a notified body according to the IVDR more time. These devices may still be manufactured and placed on the market after May 26, 2022. But be careful! Some IVDR requirements still have to be met. You can read more about these at the end of this article.

b) Which devices are affected by the changes?

First, it is important to note that the new regulations only apply to legacy devices. These are devices for which compliance has been (or still will be) declared before May 26, 2022 AND are in classes D, C, B or A (sterile) according to the IVDR. This means that all devices benefit from an extended transitional period, except:

  • Class A devices that are not labeled as sterile and
  • New devices for which a declaration of conformity will not be issued until after May 26, 2022.

c) How long are the new transitional periods?

The length of the new transitional periods depends on the future risk class and whether a notified body has previously been involved under the IVDD.

  • The is no extended transitional period for class A devices with the exception of sterile devices.
  • These sterile class A devices, together with class B devices, have been given the longest transitional period (until May 26, 2027) for placing on the market.
  • For class C devices, the transitional period ends on May 26, 2026.
  • For class D devices, the transitional period ends on May 26, 2025.
  • The “clearance regulation” applies for a further year after the end of the aforementioned periods.

The following diagram summarizes the regulations. The following section explains in detail how this will work in individual cases.

2. The new deadlines in detail

a) IVDs for which a certificate has been issued by a notified body under the IVDD and that also require a notified body under the IVDR

For in vitro diagnostic medical devices for which a certificate has been issued by a notified body under the IVDD, the deadline in Article 110(2) is changed as follows:

  • Certificates issued by notified bodies under the IVDD prior to May 25, 2017 will remain valid until the date indicated on the certificate. So, for these devices, there is no change.
  • Certificates issued in accordance with Annex VI of the IVDD will become void at the latest on May 27, 2025.
    (Previously: 2024 – 1 year extension)
  • Certificates issued by notified bodies in accordance with the IVDD from May 25, 2017 will become void by May 27, 2025 at the latest.
    (Previously: 2024 – 1 year extension)

What specifically does this mean?

The prerequisite, in this case, is that a notified body has previously been involved under the IVDD. This applies to devices according to Annex II of the IVDD, List A and List B, and for devices for self-testing, regardless of the conformity assessment procedure chosen under the IVDD. Therefore, it doesn't matter whether the device in question has been issued a certificate under the IVDD via a full quality assurance system, via a type examination or design examination in the case of self-tests.

Let’s assume you have declared conformity for a List B IVD with a certificate from a notified body according to Annex IV (full quality assurance) of the IVDD. The certificate was issued before May 25, 2017. In this case, the certificate should be valid until May 25, 2022 at the latest, if it was issued in accordance with the IVDD (Article 9(10)). So, anyone who has not had an updated certificate issued by a notified body under the IVDD by May 25, 2022 at the latest must declare conformity under the IVDR. Manufacturers must involve an IVDR-accredited notified body to do this. The validity of a certificate issued between May 25, 2017 and May 25, 2022 must end by May 26, 2025 at the latest (last possible date), as otherwise it will become invalid according to the IVDR (Article 110).

b) “Other IVD devices” placed on the market under the IVDD and that require a notified body under the IVDR

  • For in vitro diagnostic medical devices for which manufacturers issued the declaration of conformity themselves without the involvement of a notified body before May 26, 2022 and which, under the IVDR, must undergo a conformity assessment procedure with the involvement of a notified body according to the IVDR classification rules, the following new transitional periods apply:
    • May 26, 2025 for class D IVDs
    • May 26, 2026 for class C IVDs
    • May 26, 2027 for class B IVDs
    • May 26, 2027 for class A IVDs placed on the market in sterile condition
  • Therefore, depending on the risk class of the IVDs, these legacy devices can continue to be placed on the market after the IVDR starts to apply on May 26, 2022, provided that the devices comply with the requirements of the IVDD and there are no significant changes to the design and intended purpose. 
  • However, manufacturers should be aware that even for devices for which the proposed transitional periods would apply, the requirements of the IVDR with regard to post-market surveillance (PMS), market surveillance, vigilance and registration of economic operators and devices must still be complied with.

What specifically does this mean?

If we take the example of a declaration of conformity that has been or will be issued according to Annex III of the IVDD without the involvement of a notified body before May 26, 2022, the question is which IVDR class the device will fall under in the future.

N.B.!

If you want to use this option, you should pay attention to the details in the declaration of conformity. This article will help you with this:

EU Declaration of Conformity

I) If the device will be in class D in the future, then you can continue to manufacture and place the device on the market until May 26, 2025 but you cannot modify it. After that date, you or the distributor may continue to provide and put the device into service for one additional year until May 26, 2026. This is colloquially called the “clearance regulation.”

II) If the device will be in class C in the future, then it can continue to be manufactured and placed on the market until May 26, 2026. Substantial modifications are not permitted.

III) If the device falls into class B or A (sterile), the manufacture and placing on the market of the device is permitted until May 26, 2027, which makes this the longest transitional period. Modifications to the device are not permitted in this case either.

C) No extension for “normal” (non-sterile) class A devices and “new” IVDs

However, the extensions proposed by the Commission do NOT apply to two device groups:

  • “Normal” (non-sterile) class A devices
  • “New” IVDs

If the device will fall into class A in the future and is not a sterile device, manufacturers must provide proof of conformity according to the IVDR from May 26, 2022 in all cases and comply with all applicable requirements of the IVDR. This means they cannot take advantage of any extended transitional periods. As no notified body is required, being able to do this is reliant only on the manufacturer's resources and scheduling.

Similarly, the extended deadlines do not apply for “new” in vitro diagnostic medical devices. The Commission considers in vitro diagnostic medical devices whose conformity has not been certified under the IVDD as “new” devices.

For these devices, manufacturers will also have to demonstrate conformity according to the IVDR from May 26, 2022 in all cases.

d) Laboratory developed tests (LDT)

There is now some more leeway for devices produced and used by health institutions themselves. The main purpose of this extra leeway is to relieve the burden on health institutions, such as laboratories, that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Articles 5(5) sentence 1, sentence 2 letter (a), and (3) to (5) are excluded from the extended deadlines.

3. Demonstration of conformity with the general safety and performance requirements shall include a clinical evaluation in accordance with Article 61.
4. Devices that are manufactured and used within health institutions shall be considered as having been put into service.
5. With the exception of the relevant general safety and performance requirements set out in Annex I, the requirements of this Regulation shall not apply to devices, manufactured and used only within health institutions established in the Union, provided that all of the following conditions are met:

Therefore, from May 26, 2022, all lab developed tests in the EU must meet the general safety and performance requirements set out in Annex I of the IVDR, including the performance evaluation, and may not be provided to another legally independent facility – legal requirements that are already established in Germany in the Medizinproduktegesetz (MPG).

Article 5(5) of the IVDR establishes longer deadlines for specific LDTs in its subsections. The deadline for the implementation of subsections (b) and (c), and (e) through (i), is now May 26, 2024. For d), the deadline is now May 26, 2028.

The latest deadline is for d). It states:

the  health institution justifies in its documentation that the target patient group's specific needs cannot be met, or cannot be met at the appropriate level of performance by an equivalent device available on the market”

This requirement was intended to ensure that there is no market competition between LDTs and commercial devices, since they are regulated differently. Now the EU has moved this issue right to the end of the transitional period with the reasoning that laboratories will only be able to compare the devices on the market with their own devices when all IVD devices on the market have been authorized under the IVDR and registered in EUDAMED.

Why the EU has granted a postponement for LDTs

The following items in Article 5(5) are granted a two-year postponement until May 26, 2024:

  • Quality management system
    Letter b) establishes the requirement for an appropriate quality management system that must, at least, take into account ISO 13485 for IVD device development and manufacture in order to comply with the state of the art.
  • Quality assurance in the laboratory
    Letter c) requires compliance with the specifications of ISO 15189 for quality assurance in the laboratory and compliance with national accreditation regulations, e.g., RiLiBÄK (Guidelines of the German Medical Association for Quality Assurance of Medical Laboratory Tests) in Germany.
  • Provision of information
    Letter e) requires the provision of information to authorities on manufacturing, modification and use.
  • Compliance with Annex I
    Letter f) requires compliance with Annex I of the IVDR.
  • Documentation

Letter g) relates to the documentation on production, design and performance, in other words the “device file.”

  • Proof of manufacture according to the specifications (batch record)
    Letter h) requires proof that all devices are manufactured according to the specifications in the “device file.”
  • Serious incidents and corrective actions

Letter i) requires the collecting and reviewing of experiences gained from clinical application use, as well as the taking any necessary corrective actions.

3. What has not changed?

The IVDR will apply from May 26, 2022. Therefore, the post-market surveillance obligations established in Articles 78 to 81 and the vigilance obligations (Articles 82 to 87) and the specifications regarding monitoring by competent authorities also apply, regardless of the transitional periods. Therefore, all of Chapter VII of the IVDR applies, even if the device was placed on the market under the IVDD. In addition, economic operators must register in EUDAMED.

The notified body that issued the certificates under the IVDD will continue to be responsible for monitoring conformity during the transitional period.

It is important that no substantial modifications are made to the devices during the transitional period because otherwise manufacturers will have to apply the IVDR in full immediately.

4. Background of the changes

The IVDR entered into force on May 25, 2017 and is scheduled to become mandatory on May 26, 2022. The new deadlines do not change this. The previous deadlines would have made a high proportion of the declarations of conformity issued under the IVDD invalid from May 2022.

However, on October 15, 2021, the EU Commission published a proposed amendment to the IVDR to give manufacturers more time to go through the conformity assessment procedure. The resulting amending regulation has passed through the legislative process very quickly.

Reasons

The Commission primarily justified its proposal based on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: the pandemic has tied up a lot of resources, making it almost impossible to implement the necessary measures quickly.

However, the current impact of the MDR on the medtech market is also likely to play a role. The aim is to avoid the kind of device culling caused by the MDR with in vitro diagnostic medical devices. Various actors have been sounding the alarm for months already.

  • Several stakeholders from politics, the medtech industry and notified bodies, as well as medical professionals, scientists and non-profit organizations have warned of the dangers of the too-short deadlines in the IVDR.
  • On May 11, 2021 and June 15, 2021, respectively, various parties and the Council of Health Ministers approached the Commission to request a new regulation.

The Commission also recognized the urgency of the situation in its proposal:

  • There are currently only six notified bodies in the whole of Europe that can work with the IVDR (there were 18 under the IVDD).
  • At the same time, notified bodies now have to be involved with a considerably higher number of in vitro diagnostic medical devices: previously, their involvement was needed for about 8% of IVDs on the market. Under the IVDR, just under 78% (approx. 24,000 IVDs in total) would require the involvement of a notified body.
  • According to a survey by MedTech Europe, if the deadlines were not extended, from 2022, around 22% of in vitro diagnostic medical devices would disappear from the market (there are currently approximately 40,000 IVDs on the market, i.e., 9,000 would disappear).
  • However, Covid-19 has shown just how important reliable in vitro diagnostic medical devices are.
  • Around 70% of clinical decisions are taken with the help of in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

5. What the changes mean for manufacturers

  • Therefore, it is important that manufacturers stick to their implementation plan to ensure that their IVDs become IVDR-compliant in time.
  • Manufacturers should not waste any time, particularly in light of the scarce resources.
  • Manufacturers should be clear about the risk class of their IVD. It’s not just the conformity assessment procedure that depends on it, the transitional period does as well.

6. Conclusion

The IVDR will apply from May 26, 2022. The new regulations in the IVDR do not change this fact. However, a significant number of IVD manufacturers will now be given more time to demonstrate their device's conformity. Given the current shortage of notified bodies for the IVDR and the generally fraught situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, this should be a big relief for a lot of manufacturers – and help keep important IVDs on the market.

Author:

Dr. Sebastian Grömminger

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