Medical Device Regulation (MDR) – 11 Key Changes

The EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR) was the most significant regulatory change in Europe in over 20 years.

  • The MDR entered into force in 2017 with a three-year transition period.*
  • The MDR replaced the Medical Device Directive 93/42/EEC and several other directives.
  • As of 26 May 2021, compliance with the MDR is now mandatory for manufacturers of medical devices marketed in the EU.

*Extended due to the impact of the pandemic (read more below).

The MDR meant significant changes for Medical Device manufacturers marketing products in Europe.

  • Firstly, the European Union’s MDR (2017) now spans over 175 pages (updated from 20 Articles to 123 Articles and now containing 17 Annexes).
  • Secondly, the MDR now has a stronger focus on clinical evidence and post-market surveillance to ensure patient safety and ongoing monitoring of product safety and performance across the lifetime of the medical product.

Being a regulation versus a directive also gives the Regulatory Authorities more power to oversee manufacturer compliance with product safety and performance standards.

MDD vs MDR: There were a total of 3 EU Directives replaced by the EU Medical Device Regulation (MDR):

  • Medical Device Directive (MDD)
  • Active Implantable Medical Devices (AIMD)
  • In-vitro Diagnostic Directive (IVDD)

The new EU MDR is enforceable by law by EU member states so therefore it is essential that medical device manufacturers are prepared and in compliance.

Changes to the EU MDR – EU Medical Device Regulation


11 Key Changes to the EU Medical Device Regulation (update summary)

  1. Unique Device Identification (UDI) System (Article 27, Annex VI)

A UDI device identifier (UDI-DI) and a UDI production identifier (UDI-PI) will be required on all products to be placed on the EU market, with the exception of custom-made devices and investigational devices. This will allow for greater traceability and transparency of devices, improved incident reporting, improved field safety corrective actions, improved monitoring by competent authorities, reduced medical errors and fight against falsified devices reaching the market.

  1. EUDAMED (European Database on Medical Devices) (Article 33)

EUDAMED will consist of a number of integrated electronic systems. It will be used to collect and process information relating to devices in the EU and will allow for better access and exchange of information between the public, health care professionals, notified bodies and member states.

Information will be available on the registration of devices, conformity assessments, notified bodies, certificates, economic operators, sponsors, the UDI database, clinical investigations, vigilance, market surveillance, reporting of serious adverse events, device deficiencies and updates.

Data protection regulations/privacy laws re EUDAMED

EUDAMED will comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) REGULATION (EU) 2016/679, which was adopted on May 27th, 2016 and which comes into force on May 25th, 2018. Note: The GDPR (EU 2016/679) replaced the Data Protection Directive (DPD 95/46/EC).

  1. Classification Rules (Annex VIII)

There are 22 classification rules in total – some of which have been updated and the inclusion of four new rules.

(Rules 1-4:Non-invasive devices, Rules 5-8:Invasive devices, Rules 9-13:Active devices, Rules 14-22:Special rules (Rules 19-22 are new rules)).

Manufacturers will need to consider these rules to determine if a device already on the market needs to be reclassified.

Rule 11: Software is one such rule where particular attention needs to be given. If manufacturers have a product that contains software that has a decision-making or monitoring functionality, then this will be reclassified from Class I to Class IIa. Manufacturers should consult with their designated Notified Body to determine if re-classification is required.

  1. General Safety and Performance Requirements (Annex I)

The “Essential Requirements” from the Medical Device Directive is now “General Safety and Performance Requirements”. Manufacturers will have to comply with the requirements set out in Annex I to demonstrate conformity. There are over 23 requirements, many of which are new. There is a strong emphasis on risk management and reducing risk as much as possible whilst considering the risk-benefit ratio. Manufacturers should be clear on the “Intended Purpose” of the device and consider duration of use, route of administration and materials/ substances that will be used.

  1. Clinical Evaluation and Post-Market Clinical Follow-Up (Chapter VI, Annex XIV)

Manufacturers will be required to provide sufficient clinical evidence to demonstrate conformity to the requirements set out in Annex I. A Clinical Evaluation Plan, a Clinical Evaluation Report and a Post-Market Clinical Follow-Up Plan will be required. The clinical evaluation and documentation must be updated throughout the product life cycle.

For Class II b and Class III devices, manufacturers may consult relevant experts to review their clinical development strategy and proposals for clinical investigation.

  1. Clinical Investigations (Chapter VI, Annex XV)

Manufacturers will be required to implement a Clinical Investigation Plan and procedures. The Clinical Investigation Plan must be in line with the Clinical Evaluation Plan. Research methodologies used must be appropriate to the device, using the latest scientific and technical knowledge. Personnel conducting clinical investigations must be appropriately trained in both the proper use of the device and Good Clinical Practice.

  1. Post-Market Surveillance System (Chapter VII)

Manufacturers will be required to implement a Post-Market Surveillance System as part of the QMS. Information gathered will be used to update the summary of safety and clinical performance, clinical evaluation, design and manufacturing information, benefit-risk determination, improve risk management, improve usability, performance and safety of the device and to identify needs for corrective and preventative actions.

A Periodic Safety Update Report for each product will be required. The reporting of serious incidents will be no later than 15 days.

  1. Person Responsible for Regulatory Compliance (PRRC) (Article 15)

Manufacturers will need to assign a PRRC with relevant experience in medical devices and regulatory affairs/quality management systems within their organisation. The PRRC will be responsible for ensuring the conformity of the device, technical documentation, post-market surveillance and reporting obligations.

Authorised Representatives will also require a PRRC.

  1. Risk Management (Annex I) and Quality Management System (Annex IX)

Manufacturers must establish a Risk Management system and ensure Risk Management and Risk Controls are applied throughout the life-cycle of the device. Risk Management is aligned to ISO 14971:2012.

Quality Management System requirements are aligned to ISO 13485:2016. The Post-Market Surveillance system and Clinical Evaluation Plan will form part of the QMS.

  1. Common Specifications (Article 9)

Common Specifications will be used if harmonized standards don’t exist or are considered insufficient to demonstrate conformity in respect of the General Safety and Performance requirements (Annex I), Technical Documentation requirements (Annex II and III), Clinical Evaluation and Post-Market Clinical Follow Up (Annex XIV) and Clinical Investigations (Annex XV).

The EU Commission will implement the Common Specifications which will be developed by the Medical Device Coordination Group and relevant experts.

  1. Monitoring of Notified Bodies (Chapter IV, Annex VII)

There will be increased monitoring and oversight of Notified Bodies (NB’s). The authority responsible for NB’s will critically evaluate the NB assessment of technical documentation, paying particular attention to Clinical Evaluation.

For Class III implantable devices and class II active devices intended to administer and/or remove a medicinal product, NB’s will be required to consult experts to evaluate their Clinical Evaluation Assessment report. This is to ensure confidence in the system and ensure patients receive the highest level of healthcare.

Need help with EU MDR compliance requirements? Contact PharmOut to ensure you are in compliance with the EU Medical Device Regulation (EU MDR), or to implement CAPAs and other changes to respond to a Regulatory Audit Finding.

Update – Delay of Implementation of EU MDR Due to Covid-19 Pandemic – May 2021

*Since this blog was originally published in Jan 2020, the covid-19 pandemic delayed the implementation dates of the EU MDR from May 2020 to 26th May 2021.

The TGA issued a presentation on 18-May-2021 “EU Medical Device Regulation: Implications for the TGA and Australia” providing an update on the new timelines for implementation of the changes to medical device regulation in Australia.

Other regulatory changes for Medical Device Manufacturers

What are the Australian regulatory changes?

The TGA aims to align with the updated EU MDR and best practices from the FDA, IMDRF and comparable regulators

Overview of changes include:

  • Align with the EU MDR requirements
  • Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) classification rules
  • Development of Unique Device Identifier (UDI) database
  • Australian Conformity Assessment Bodies – the TGA will determine the scope of accreditation of Australian CA bodies
  • Comparable to overseas regulators – TGA will allow industry to use evidence from applications from a wider range of countries to support ATRG inclusion applications
  • Priority pathway for novel devices
  • Review of low-risk devices and other therapeutic goods
  • Reforms to IVDs (companion diagnostics, self-tests)
  • Development of Personalised Medical Device Framework
  • Enhancement to post-market process (post-market monitoring and surveillance)
  • Reclassification of surgical meshes and other devices
  • Patient materials (implant cards and information leaflets)

Regulation reform:

The Australian Regulatory Guidelines for Medical Devices (ARGMD) is currently being updated to align with EU requirements i.e. software-based medical devices, personalised medical devices, IVD companion diagnostics and reclassification of certain devices.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Act is being updated to include the Unique Device Identification (UDI) requirements, definitions and clarifying system or procedure pack requirements.

The Essential Principles and conformity assessment procedures are also being updated.

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs)

The current MRA’s Australia has with the European Commission do not reflect the updated MDR requirements. Negotiations are ongoing between the Australian government and the European Commission regarding updates to the MRA’s.

Following Brexit and the UK departure from the EU, Australia and the UK have already signed an MRA for recognition of conformity assessment certification.

The EU is still developing guidance for the EU MDR. This may impact the updates to the Australian medical device regulations.

A copy of the TGA presentation and further information on how medical devices will be regulated in Australia can be found on the TGA website:

Resources & further reading

Learn more about the EU MDR and ISO 13485 QMS requirements by visiting the Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Industry education resources.

For more best-practice blogs about medical devices and regulatory requirements, see below:

Summary of EU MDR implementation timeline

The MDR replaces the existing Directives for medical devices (93/42/EEC and 90/385/EEC). The Regulation on in vitro diagnostic medical devices, which also came into force in May 2017, will replace Directive 98/79/EC when it comes into application on 26 May 2022.

Page originally published January 23, 2020.

Page was last updated on September 20, 2022.