The Big Data Steering Group set up by EMA and the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) has published its workplan which sets actions to be delivered in 2020-21. With the European Medicines Regulatory Network focused on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workplan aims to progress evolution to data-driven regulation through smart working, leveraging collaboration with stakeholders and the use of remote expert workshops.
In the past three years, EMA and HMA have led a thorough assessment of the challenges and opportunities posed by big data in medicines regulation. This culminated in January 2020 with the publication of recommendations for regulators to evolve their approach to data use and evidence generation.
Following this preparatory work, the Big Data Steering Group was established in February 2020 to advise the EMA Management Board and HMA on implementing ten priority recommendations.
Its first workplan, published today, aims to increase the utility of big data in regulation from the quality of data through study methods to assessment and decision-making. It foresees closely involving patients and is guided by advances in science and technology. Other stakeholders will also be involved and the workplan intends to leverage international collaboration. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss the workplan and its implementation in the context of a virtual multi-stakeholder forum scheduled for late 2020.
Big data are extremely large, rapidly accumulating datasets captured across multiple settings and devices, for example through wearable devices and electronic health records. Coupled to rapidly developing technology, big data can complement the evidence from clinical trials and fill knowledge gaps on a medicine, and help to better characterise diseases, treatments and the performance of medicines in individual healthcare systems. The rapidly changing data landscape forces regulators to evolve and change the way they access, manage and analyse data and to keep pace with the rapid advances in science and technology.
The work carried out by the Big Data Steering Group builds on the Regulatory Science Strategy to 2025, published in March 2020, and will support the European Medicines Agencies Network Strategy to 2025, currently under development.
The European Medicines Regulatory Network has to prioritise the unprecedented public health challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the Big Data Steering Group workplan will need to be flexible and certain actions may need to be re-scheduled depending on the development of the pandemic.