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COVID-19 Guidance & Updates

We are happy to share the result of our Regulatory Intelligence Monitoring and provide an overview of the guidance issued to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

This post is updated as necessary to reflect the latest news notified to our clients through each monthly Report. Further to the distribution of our Report N°182, this was last updated on 07-Oct-2021.

Where applicable, changes on this page and in the downloadable report are highlighted in Green. Please click the button below to download the full Regulatory Intelligence Report:

DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to cover all countries worldwide. For more information about the scope of our Regulatory Monitoring, please check our Q&As.


High Level Summary

Clinical Trials:

Most of the guidance documents that have been published are related to the conduct of Clinical Trials, and they are intended to protect subject safety and data validity.

The impact for Pharmacovigilance groups in the Industry is limited as compliance with existing safety reporting requirements is generally expected.

The European Commission held a webinar on 15-May-2020 to provide an overview of the most important elements of its Guidance on the management of clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Slides and Video Recording are made available.

A few National Competent Authorities (e.g. France, the UK) have however published guidance to express their understanding that safety reporting timelines may not always be met, and that SUSARs submissions should have priority over periodic safety reports.

Both the EMA and FDA have published guidance to help with the statistical analysis of trials impacted by COVID-19. The FDA has also issued a new guidance document to help assess the benefits of potential treatments on COVID-19-related symptoms during clinical trials.

Multiple authorities around the world have also issued Guidance designed to fast-track the approval of modified vaccines targeting COVID-19 virus variants.

Post-Marketing:

At the European Level, the EMA has published guidance that describes how companies can prioritise ICSR Reporting activities. This guidance has been updated to cover Pharmacovigilance Quality Management aspects including CAPAs, Audits and Inspections.

The European EFPIA issued additional guidance for the prioritization of Pharmacovigilance activities to mitigate the possible significant and sudden impact of COVID-19 on resources.

The EMA has issued detailed guidance that provides recommendations for the processing and coding of ICSRs associated with products used for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. The latter guidance has been revised reflect the update of MedDRA 23.0, which contains additional COVID-19- terms, which was implemented in EudraVigilance.

The EMA also extended the Medical Literature Monitoring (MLM) service to include potential COVID-19 treatments.

The MHRA has defined regulatory flexibility for certain Pharmacovigilance requirements including PSUR Submission, Safety Variations, dissemination of educational materials and DHPCs. ICSRs follow-up activities should also be prioritised to minimise the burden on Health Care Professionals. The MHRA has introduced an additional category to those defined at the EU level for the prioritization of ICSR submissions. The MHRA has also defined an urgent review procedure for the Relaxation of Risk Minimisation Measures.

The FDA and Health Canada have published guidance that provides a framework to delay the submission of some reports, including ICSRs for non-priority products. The FDA has issued an updated version of its guidance on 11-May-2020, which brought important changes for the prioritization of 15-day Alert reports that should be submitted to the FDA.

The FDA has also expressed their understanding that some REMS requirements may not be met during the Public Health Emergency.

Following positive announcements on the efficacy of some COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the EMA has published new guidance to address specific considerations for Risk Management activities. This includes new guidance on Risk Management Plans (RMPs) for COVID-19 vaccines, which complements existing GVP Guidelines and brings a new safety reporting obligation for MAHs of COVID-19 vaccines. The EMA has published new guidance to address specific considerations for Periodic Safety Update Reports (PSURs), highlighting that the “Summary Monthly Safety Reports” required in EMA’s Core RMP Guidance document are not meant to replace the PSURs.

The WHO has issued a new COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance manual, which is intended to harmonise vaccine safety surveillance systems and vaccine safety communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional module has now been published, which covers the safety surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In line with their defined strategies, the EMA, the MHRA and the ANSM are all providing frequent updates about the safety of approved COVID-19 Vaccines. Authorities have concluded to a possible link between very rare cases of thromboembolic events with both the AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. More recently, these two vaccines have been linked to the occurrence of capillary leak syndrome whereas a risk of myocarditis and pericarditis has been associated with mRNA Vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna). Both the FDA and the EMA have warned about the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome with Janssen’s Vaccine.

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