Mutual recognition

The mutual recognition procedure is an alternative means by which a marketing authorization may be sought. It is open to all drug types except products of biotechnology. Briefly, if this procedure is adopted by a sponsor, then the sponsor applies for a marketing licence not to the EMEA, but to a specific national regulatory authority (chosen by the sponsor). The national authority then has 210 days to assess the application.

If adopted by the national authority in question, the sponsor can seek marketing licences in other countries on that basis. For this bilateral phase, other states in which marketing authorization are sought have 60 days in which to review the application. The theory, of course, is that no substantive difficulty should arise at this stage, as all countries are working to the same set of standards as laid down in 'The Rules Governing Medicinal Products in the European Union'.

A further 30 days is set aside in which any difficulties that arise may be resolved. The total application duration is 300 days. If one or more states refuse to grant the marketing authorization (i.e. mutual recognition breaks down), then the difficulties are referred back to the EMEA. The CPMP will then make a decision ('opinion'), which is sent to the European Commission. The Commission, taking into account the CPMP opinion, will make a final decision that is a binding.

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