Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
|Executive agency overview|
|Formed||1 April 2003|
|Headquarters||10 South Colonnade, London E14|
|Executive agency executives|
|Parent department||Department of Health and Social Care|
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom which is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe.
The MHRA was formed in 2003 with the merger of the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the Medical Devices Agency (MDA). In April 2013, it merged with the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and was rebranded, with the MHRA identity being used solely for the regulatory centre within the group. The agency employs more than 1,200 people in London, York and South Mimms, Hertfordshire.
The MHRA is divided into three main centres:
- MHRA Regulatory – the regulator for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries
- Clinical Practice Research Datalink – oversees clinical primary care data for research
- National Institute for Biological Standards and Control – responsible for the standardisation and control of biological medicines
The MHRA has several independent advisory committees which provide the UK Government with information and guidance on the regulation of medicines and medical devices. There are currently eight such committees:
- Advisory Board on the Registration of Homeopathic Products
- Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee
- The Review Panel
- Independent Scientific Advisory Committee for MHRA database research
- Medicines Industry Liaison Group
- Innovation Office
- Blood Consultative Committee
- Devices Expert Advisory Committee
In 1999, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) took over control of the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) from the Office for National Statistics. The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the Medical Devices Agency (MDA) merged in 2003 to form MHRA. In April 2012, the GPRD was expanded and relaunched as the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). In April 2013, MHRA merged with the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and was rebranded, with the MHRA identity being used for the parent organisation and one of the centres within the group. At the same time, CPRD was made a separate centre of the MHRA.
- Operate post-marketing surveillance for reporting, investigating and monitoring of adverse drug reactions to medicines and incidents with medical devices.
- Assess and authorise of medicinal products for sale and supply in the UK.
- Oversee the Notified Bodies that ensure medical device manufacturers comply with regulatory requirements before putting devices on the market.
- Operate a quality surveillance system to sample and test medicines to address quality defects and to monitor the safety and quality of unlicensed products.
- Investigate internet sales and potential counterfeiting of medicines, and prosecute where necessary.
- Regulate clinical trials of medicines and medical devices.
- Monitor and ensure compliance with statutory obligations relating to medicines and medical devices.
- Promote safe use of medicines and devices.
- Manage the Clinical Practice Research Datalink and the British Pharmacopoeia.
The MHRA hosts and supports a number of expert advisory bodies, including the British Pharmacopoeia Commission, and the Commission on Human Medicine which replaced the Committee on the Safety of Medicines in 2005.
The MHRA manages the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS), which was created in 2014 to allow access to medicines prior to market authorisation where there is a clear unmet medical need.
As part of the European system of approval, the MHRA or other national bodies can be the rapporteur or co-rapporteur for any given pharmaceutical application, taking on the bulk of the verification work on behalf of all members, while the documents are still sent to other members as and where requested.
On completion of the UK's departure from the European Union in January 2021, the MHRA becomes a stand-alone body.
The MHRA is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care for the regulation of medical devices, whilst the costs of medicines regulation is met through fees from the pharmaceutical industry. This has led to suggestions by some MPs that the MHRA is too reliant on industry, and so not fully independent.
The MHRA's strategy is set by a board which consists of a chairperson (appointed for a three-year term by the Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care) and eight non-executive directors, together with the chief executive and chief operating officer. The chair since September 2020 is Stephen Lightfoot, who is also chair of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and non-executive chair of Sussex Primary Care Limited. Sir Michael Rawlins was the chair from 2014 to 2020.
Notable assessments and interventions
On 2 December 2020, the MHRA became the first global medicines regulator to approve an RNA vaccine when it gave conditional and temporary authorization to supply for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine codenamed BNT162b2 (later branded as Comirnaty). The regulator's public assessment report for the vaccine was published in 15 December.
The MHRA went on to give conditional and temporary authorization to supply of further vaccines: AZD1222 from Oxford University and AstraZeneca on 30 December, and mRNA-1273 from Moderna on 8 January 2021.
In January 2021, the MHRA expressed concern to the UK government over plans to deploy lateral flow tests in schools, stating that they had not authorised daily use of the tests due to concerns that negative results may give false reassurance.
The MHRA and the US Food and Drug Administration were criticised in the 2012 book Bad Pharma, and in 2004 by David Healy in evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee, for having undergone regulatory capture, i.e. advancing the interests of the drug companies rather than the interests of the public.
- Black triangle scheme
- Yellow Card Scheme
- List of pharmacy organisations in the United Kingdom
- European Medicines Agency
- Food and Drug Administration (United States)
- Regulation of therapeutic goods
- "About us". www.gov.uk. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
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- "Stephen Lightfoot". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
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- "UK medicines regulator gives approval for first UK COVID-19 vaccine". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
- Boseley, Sarah; Halliday, Josh (2 December 2020). "UK approves Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for rollout next week". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
- "Conditions of Authorisation for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine". GOV.UK. MHRA. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
- "Comirnaty EPAR". European Medicines Agency (EMA). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
- "Comirnaty Trade mark number UK00003531641". Intellectual Property Office. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
- "Public Assessment Report for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine" (PDF). MHRA. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
- "Regulatory approval of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca". GOV.UK. 30 December 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
- "Regulatory approval of COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna". GOV.UK. 8 January 2021. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
- Halliday, Josh (14 January 2021). "Regulator refuses to approve mass daily Covid testing at English schools". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
- "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Fourth Report of Session 2004–05, Volume I" (PDF). Page 5: "Greater transparency is also fundamental to the medicines regulatory system. There has to be better public access to materials considered by the MHRA prior to licensing". House of Commons Health Committee. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Fourth Report of Session 2004–05, Volume I" (PDF). Page 4: "the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has failed to adequately scrutinise licensing data and its post-marketing surveillance is inadequate. ". House of Commons Health Committee. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Goldacre, Ben (2012). Bad pharma : how drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0-00-735074-2.
- Health Committee: Evidence. House of Commons Health Committee. 2004. p. 98. ISBN 9780215024572.
- "Cannabis-based products 'are medicine'". BBC News. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2019.