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Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.
Fifty percent of the marketing authorization applications for human medicines submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009 were for generic and hybrid medicines?60% higher than the agency's forecast.
Fifty percent of the marketing authorization applications for human medicines submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009 were for generic and hybrid medicines-60% higher than the agency’s forecast. The statistics come from EMA’s 2009 annual report, which provides a detailed overview of EMA’s activities during the year.
Despite the increase of generic and hybrid products, however, the overall number of marketing authorizations received by EMA dropped to 96-a decrease of 7% compared with 2008. Excluding multiple applications, there were 63 applications by active substance; this time a 16% decrease compared with 2008. Considering the unprecedented generic-drug applications, the statistics highlight a marked drop in innovative medicines.
Although the report and its statistics paint a bleak image for innovator pharmaceutical manufacturers, it’s a different story for EMA, which has had a very successful year. According to the report, EMA adopted 125 opinions in 2009 for marketing authorization applications for human medicines-the highest number ever adopted in one year. Assessment times were also considerably lower than in previous years, which EMA attributed to the high number of generic applications.
EMA also saw a “substantial” increase in many of its core activities in 2009, including scientific advice requests, orphan designations, variations and safety-related activities, and made progress on other initiatives such as the European medicines network-a partnership between EMA, the European Commission and more than 40 European medicines regulatory authorities.
H1N1 helps unite global regulators
One of the most intensive efforts and budget items for EMA in 2009 was the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Chair of EMA Management Board, Pat O’Mahony, described EMA’s response to the pandemic as “probably the most striking illustration of the effectiveness of the Agency.” He explained that EMA’s preplanning enabled a rapid response once the pandemic was declared, as well as the “intensive concentrated scrutiny of product applications leading to the approval of pandemic vaccines.”
O’Mahony also added that the incident demonstrates the importance of inter-agency and international collaborations. According to the report, the pandemic resulted in “unprecedented levels of international cooperation,” with EMA having regular exchanges with regulators in Australia, Canada, Japan and the US, as well as experts from the World Health Organization.
“The influenza pandemic was by definition a global challenge,” said the report. “The fact that everybody was faced with very similar challenges brought regulators worldwide closer together.”