Questions and answers: Article 34 veterinary referral procedures

  • Email
  • Help

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) provides guidance in the form of questions and answers (Q&As) on Article 34 veterinary referral procedures handled by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP).

These Q&As provide an overview of EMA's practical and operational aspects on handling of Article 34 referral procedures. EMA updates the Q&As regularly. Revised topics are marked 'New' or 'Rev.' on publication.

A PDF version of these Q&As is available:


The Q&As are for guidance only and should be read in conjunction with the rules governing medicinal products in the European Union, volume 6A, chapter 3, notice to applicants.

Marketing authorisation holders (MAH) must in all cases comply with the requirements of European Union legislation.

Table of contents


Initiation of Article 34 referral

Back to top

1. What is the legal basis for an Article 34 referral procedure?

An Article 34 “harmonisation” referral procedure follows the provisions of Article 34 of Directive 2001/82/EC.

It applies when divergent decisions on the authorisation, suspension or revocation of a particular veterinary medicinal product have been taken by two or more Member States.

The procedure for an Article 34 referral procedure is laid down in Articles 36, 37 and 38 of Directive 2001/82/EC.

References:

2. In which situations can an Article 34 referral procedure be initiated?

An Article 34(1) referral procedure may be initiated when divergent decisions have been adopted by Member States concerning the authorisation (e.g. different indications, posology, target species, contraindications, withdrawal periods or warnings), suspension or revocation of a particular veterinary medicinal product. This procedure can be initiated by a Member State, the European Commission or a marketing authorisation holder (MAH) where divergent decisions have been taken with respect to the terms of a marketing authorisation for the same product in two or more Member States.

References:

3. Who can initiate an Article 34 referral procedure?

An Article 34 referral procedure can be initiated by Member States (MSs), the European Commission (EC) or by the marketing authorisation holder (MAH).

The initiator of the referral procedure refers the matter to the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) by submitting a notification form to the Agency. The notification form will identify the areas of divergence amongst the national marketing authorisations and the question(s) sent to the CVMP for consideration.

In case the MAH intends to initiate a referral under Article 34, it is advisable that it requests a pre-referral meeting with the Agency.

References:

4. Can regulatory submissions continue during an Article 34 referral procedure?

Applications for variations can be submitted and ongoing procedures can be finalised, even if the veterinary medicinal product is involved in a referral procedure. However, submitted variations will be taken into account during the referral only if approved in at least one Member State (including Iceland and Norway).

5. Which veterinary medicinal products can be involved in an Article 34 referral procedure?

For Article 34 referral procedures, only the concerned veterinary medicinal product for which divergent decisions have been adopted in Member States concerning its authorisation, suspension or revocation shall be included.

The national competent authorities of the Member States will be requested to provide the EMA with a list of the (invented) names of the veterinary medicinal product, the name of the marketing authorisation holder in the MSs where the product is authorised, strength(s), pharmaceutical form(s), target species, route of administration(s) in the respective Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA).

6. Should the marketing authorisation holder identify a contact person to communicate with the Agency during the Article 34 referral procedure?

To facilitate the exchange of information prior to the start and during the procedure, the marketing authorisation holder (MAH) should inform the Agency of the designated contact person for the Article 34 referral procedure by way of a letter of representation.

All documentation concerning the Article 34 referral procedure will be sent to the contact person only. The contact details of the person should be clearly stated (name, address, phone and fax number and email address) in the letter of representation.

The MAH may, if they wish, be represented by another party (e.g. a consultant), who will be the contact person for the procedure. In this case the MAH must inform the EMA’s procedure coordinator identified in the letter that is sent to the MAH when the referral procedure is initiated.

It is the responsibility of the MAH to notify the Agency of any change that might affect the validity of the letter of representation as soon as possible (e.g. in case of a change of the contact person), and to provide a relevant revised letter of representation in such cases. Receipt of any documents by the contact person will be considered to constitute effective receipt by the MAH inter alia for the purposes of calculating the procedural timelines.

7. When and how will the Article 34 referral procedure be announced?

The matter will be discussed at the next upcoming plenary meeting of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) and a brief summary will be included in the respective agenda published at the beginning of that CVMP meeting.

The start of the procedure will be announced as part of the CVMP meeting highlights, which will be published on the next working day following the CVMP meeting during which the matter is considered.

The announcement will specify the concerns under consideration in general terms.

8. How will the marketing authorisation holder be informed about the start of the Article 34 referral procedure?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) of the product concerned by the Article 34 referral will be notified electronically (via e-mail/Eudralink) by the Agency. The letter notifying the MAH of the procedure initiation will include:

  • the name and contact details of the Agency’s dedicated procedure coordinator for the referral who will be the primary contact point during the procedure, as well as the e-mail address of the procedure-shared mailbox, which should always be copied in all correspondence with the Agency;
  • the notification triggering the referral procedure;
  • the list of the products involved in the referral procedure;
  • the timetable and the list of questions (see Question 10 below) adopted by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP). NB List of questions not applicable at this stage if procedure triggered by the MAH.
9. Does the marketing authorisation holder have to pay a fee?

Fees are only payable for referral procedures under Article 34 of Directive 2001/82/EC which have been initiated by the marketing authorisation holder (MAH).

References:

10. Who can submit data to be considered during the Article 34 referral procedure?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) will be requested to submit information relevant for the assessment in response to a list of questions adopted by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) during the procedure.

The MAH will be informed of the start of the procedure and during the procedure on how and when to submit data (please refer to Questions 8, 11 and 14).

The submission of data is an opportunity for the MAH to present written and/or oral explanations to the CVMP within a time-limit as specified in the procedure timetable before an opinion is issued by the CVMP.

Regardless of whether or not the MAH presents written or oral explanations to the CVMP, an opinion will be issued by the CVMP, in any case, applicable to all marketing authorisations concerned by the procedure.

11. How will data be gathered during the Article 34 referral procedure?

At the start of the procedure the data considered necessary for the assessment will be identified in a list of questions for submission within the specified deadline as indicated in the timetable (please refer to Question 8, 14 and 15).

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) may also collect additional data from the marketing authorisation holder through a list of outstanding issues and/or in an oral explanation in accordance with an extended timetable.

The CVMP may also take into account any other information at its disposal which relates to the quality, safety and efficacy, as appropriate, of the veterinary medicinal product(s) concerned and which may help in arriving at its opinion.

12. Who will perform the assessment?

The assessment of data within the Article 34 referral procedure is the responsibility of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP). At the start of the procedure, the CVMP Chairperson appoints a rapporteur and a co-rapporteur who will perform the assessment of all data collected within the agreed timelines.

The assessment of all the available data will result in the CVMP adopting an opinion on the issue reviewed.

13. How are the rapporteur and co-rapporteur appointed?

At the next upcoming CVMP plenary meeting, the Chairperson of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) appoints (co-)rapporteurs for an Article 34 referral procedure from amongst the members or alternates.

If the procedure was triggered by a Member State, the CVMP member of that Member State will be appointed as rapporteur; if not the rapporteurship will be opened up to all members, along with the co-rapporteurship and, in the latter case, the CVMP Chairperson will endeavour to apply the criterion of best available expertise for the appointment of the (co-)rapporteurs.

References:

During the assessment

Back to top

14. How shall I present my answers to the CVMP’s list of questions/outstanding issues?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) is requested to submit all available evidence to support the Article 34 referral procedure to the Agency and all members of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP).

It is left to the MAH’s discretion to submit the relevant documentation necessary for the evaluation of the matter referred.

It should be noted that the responsibility for the quality of the submitted documentation lies with the MAH and is crucial to the overall assessment. All submissions are expected to be submitted in English and electronically only.

Referral procedures triggered by a Member State or the European Commission

The answers should be numbered according to the numbering on the CVMP list of questions or list of outstanding issues. The answers should be presented in two parts as described below:

Section I

Section I should contain an introduction, a written summary answering each question, a conclusion and a proposed harmonised summary of product characteristics/labelling/package leaflet.

The MAH should also provide a description of the divergences across Member States for each section of the summary of product characteristics. The MAH should give the rationale, with supportive evidence, for their proposed harmonised wording. Where applicable, this should include a justification, supported by evidence, as to why it would be considered appropriate to exclude, within the harmonised product information, wording that is currently approved in a Member State.

The MAH is requested to provide a table of contents listing all the studies referred to in the answers. For published studies, reference to the publication should be made; for each unpublished study (e.g. proprietary data), a clear statement should be provided indicating whether a detailed description of the study and its results cannot be released to the public in accordance with the relevant principles of law governing transparency and the protection of commercially confidential information. The MAH should be aware that a brief summary of each study may nevertheless be included in the overall summary of the assessment, which will be published.

Section II

Section II should contain the supportive documentation (e.g. protocols, study reports, literature) organised by quality, safety, residue, pre-clinical and clinical data and post-marketing experience, as applicable.

In response to a specific question, proprietary or published data may be presented.

Referral procedures triggered by a marketing authorisation holder

In these referrals, the procedure starts with the evaluation of the data submitted by the MAH.

It is left to the MAH’s discretion to submit the documentation necessary for the evaluation of the matter under referral and which would support the MAH’s proposed harmonised product information, with a particular focus on the resolution of divergences. The same principles as described above are recommended to be followed. This should be accompanied by an expert report/overview that reflects the up-to-date regulatory status. In all cases, data submitted should be accompanied by an overall summary of its content. A table of contents listing all studies (pre-clinical, clinical, post-marketing studies, etc.) and literature referred to in the responses is requested.

Published data can be presented as supportive documentation in response to a specific question if no other data is available.

15. To whom shall I submit my answers?

Responses from the marketing authorisation holder (MAH) should be submitted to the rapporteur, the co-rapporteur, all remaining members of the CVMP (including co-opted members) and to the Agency within the timeline specified in the cover letter to the list of questions or list of outstanding issues.

All submissions for referral procedures should be sent to the Agency via the eSubmission Gateway or eSubmission Web Client. These portals send automated acknowledgement of receipt of submission, or of failed submission if an error occurred. The Agency no longer accepts submissions on CD-ROM or DVD.

For detailed information on submission to CVMP members please refer to the dossier requirements for referral procedures.

For more information please refer to eSubmission website.

There is no need to send any separate paper cover letters for these submissions.

Should you have any questions regarding your submission, please contact us via email: vet.applications@ema.europa.eu, for any technical issues contact eSubmission@ema.europa.eu.

16. How will my data be assessed?

All information gathered will be assessed within an agreed timeframe (please refer to Question 17). The assessment report(s) prepared by the CVMP (co-)rapporteurs will reflect all data reviewed and considered relevant for the assessment.

The CVMP may in some cases require input from other individual experts to advise it on specific questions in relation to the assessment.

The CVMP (co-)rapporteur assessment report(s) will be circulated to the CVMP members for comments.

17. What is the timetable for the assessment by the CVMP?

Please note that the timelines below are provided for guidance purposes only and they refer to active days, which correspond to the time the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) takes to assess the data provided.

The timetable for the Article 34 referral procedure when triggered by a Member State or the European Commission is as follows:

Article 34 referral procedure initiated by a Member State or the European Commission - Timetable for the assessment

Active day

Notification of a referral to the CVMP/Agency Secretariat

Day 0

Discussion at the first meeting of the CVMP following receipt of the notification:

  • Appointment of the (co-)rapporteur(s)
  • Discussion of the question(s) referred
  • Adoption of a timetable and CVMP list of questions to be addressed by the marketing authorisation holder (MAH)

Day 1

Preparation and submission of written explanations by the MAH in response to the CVMP list of questions

Clock Stop

Re-start of the procedure following submission of written explanations

Clock re-start
Day2

Circulation of the (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s) on the MAH’s written responses and on the proposed summary of product characteristics (SPC)/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 20

Comments in writing from CVMP members on the (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s) and proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 25

Discussion at the CVMP meeting:

  • Discussion of assessment report(s) and comments received from CVMP members;
  • Decision on need for oral explanations;
  • Adoption of a CVMP list of outstanding issues to be answered in writing and/or in an oral explanation, if needed.

Day 30

Preparation and submission of written and/or of oral explanations by the MAH in response to the CVMP list of outstanding issues, if applicable

Clock Stop

Re-start of the procedure following submission of written explanations or at the time of oral explanations

Clock re-start
Day 31

Circulation of the (co-)rapporteur’s revised assessment report on the MAH’s explanations and on the proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 45

Adoption of a CVMP opinion (with annexes as provided in Article 36 of Directive 2001/82/EC) and CVMP assessment report

Day 60

The timetable for the procedure when triggered by a MAH is as follows:

Article 34 referral procedure initiated by a MAH - Timetable for the assessment

Day

Notification of a referral to the CVMP/Agency Secretariat

Agency to liaise with MAH to ensure that the relevant documentation is submitted to the CVMP/Agency Secretariat

Day 0

Discussion at the first meeting of the CVMP following receipt of the notification (provided that the relevant documentation has been submitted by the MAH in advance of the start of the procedure):

  • Appointment of the (co-)rapporteurs
  • Adoption of the timetable for the assessment of the documentation already submitted to the CVMP/Agency Secretariat (no CVMP list of questions is adopted)

Day 1

Circulation of the (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s) on the MAH’s submitted documentation and on the proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 20

Comments in writing from CVMP members on the (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s) and proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 25

Discussion at the CVMP meeting:

  • Discussion of assessment report(s) and comments received from CVMP members;
  • Decision on need for oral explanations;
  • Adoption of a CVMP list of questions to be answered in writing and/or in an oral explanation

Day 30

Preparation and submission of written and/or of oral explanations by the MAH in response to the CVMP list of questions

Clock Stop

Re-start of the procedure following submission of written explanations or at the time of oral explanations

Clock re-start
Day 31

Circulation of the (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report on the MAH’s explanations and on the proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 51

Comments in writing from CVMP members on the (co)-rapporteurs assessment report(s) and proposed SPC/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable

Day 55

Adoption of a CVMP opinion (with annexes as provided in Article 36 of Directive 2001/82/EC) and CVMP assessment report

Day 60

The CVMP may extend the time limit of 60 days up to 150 days (including clock-stops) to allow for the assessment of further data provided as answers to the CVMP list of outstanding issues, or for an oral explanation, or in cases where the CVMP requires input from additional experts to support the CVMP’s assessment.

The CVMP may, however, suspend the time limit of 60/150 days (clock-stop) in order to allow the MAH to prepare the responses to CVMP list of questions, list of outstanding issues or an oral explanation (as appropriate).

As a general rule, a clock-stop of up to three months will apply. For an extension of the clock-stop, the MAH should send a justified request to the Agency for agreement by the CVMP. The letter specifying the length of the requested extension should be addressed to the CVMP Chairperson, signed and sent electronically to the EMA’s procedure coordinator. In preparing the justification, the MAH should consider the issue under consideration and the impact the extension may have. The CVMP will consider the request, and if agreed, a revised timetable will be adopted.

18. Will I receive the CVMP (co )rapporteur’s assessment report(s)?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) will be provided with the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s) electronically via Eudralink.

19. Will I have the possibility to present my views in front of the CVMP and how is it organised?

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) may decide whether there are issues that would benefit from being addressed orally by the marketing authorisation holder (MAH). The MAH will be duly informed in advance of the issues to be addressed during an oral explanation.

The MAH may also make a request to the CVMP to present an oral explanation. In such a case, the MAH should send a written request to the CVMP Chairperson (via the EMA’s procedure coordinator) stating the reason(s) and specifying the issue(s) to be addressed during the oral explanation. The CVMP will take due account of the request and will decide whether the oral explanation should be held.

The oral explanation should take place during the assessment phase and after the receipt of the CVMP (co-)rapporteur’s assessment report(s). Further detailed information on organisational aspects of the oral explanation can be found here.

20. What should I do if my veterinary medicinal product is withdrawn or transferred to another marketing authorisation holder?

If a marketing authorisation is withdrawn in any Member State during the referral procedure, the former marketing authorisation holder (MAH) should inform the procedure coordinator for the referral procedure without delay. The Agency will then liaise with the national competent authority of the Member State concerned. Following confirmation by the national competent authority of the withdrawal of the marketing authorisation, the Agency will inform the former MAH that this specific marketing authorisation will no longer be included in the ongoing referral procedure.

If the marketing authorisation is transferred during the referral procedure, the new MAH should provide a copy of the transfer decision of the relevant competent authority to the procedure coordinator for the referral procedure. It should also provide information on the new contact person for the procedure to the procedure coordinator (please refer to Question 6). Following receipt of the transfer decision, the Agency will inform the former MAH that they are no longer included in the referral procedure, in relation to the marketing authorisation transferred.

21. What should I do if the name of my veterinary medicinal product changes or if the name or address of the marketing authorisation holder changes?

If the name of a veterinary medicinal product or if the name and/or address of a marketing authorisation holder (MAH) changes during the referral procedure, the MAH should inform the EMA’s procedure coordinator. The Agency will then liaise with the national competent authority of the Member State(s) concerned. Following confirmation by the national competent authority of the change, the Agency will inform the MAH that the change has been noted.

Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion

Back to top

22. When will the CVMP opinion be issued?

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) will issue an opinion on the matter within the agreed timeframe (please refer to Question 17). The CVMP may extend that period up to 150 days, to take into account all available data as well as any issues addressed by the marketing authorisation holder (MAH) before issuing an opinion.

The CVMP opinion will usually be adopted on the last day of the CVMP's plenary meeting.

23. What could be the opinion of the CVMP?

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion on an Article 34 referral procedure may be that:

  1. the marketing authorisations should be varied;
  2. the marketing authorisations should be subject to certain conditions;
  3. the MA(s) should be suspended or revoked, as applicable.

Where the product information is to be amended, the CVMP opinion will include the entire revised harmonised product information texts (i.e. summary of product characteristics, labelling and package leaflet).

Where the marketing authorisations should be subject to certain conditions, or should be suspended with condition(s) for lifting the suspension, these conditions will be clearly stated in the CVMP opinion. These can include, but are not limited to, requesting the MAH to conduct a post-authorisation study. The assessment of the fulfilment of the condition(s) will be the responsibility of the Member States, unless otherwise stated.

The CVMP opinion can be adopted by consensus or by majority vote. In the event of an adoption by a majority vote, the divergent positions of the relevant CVMP members will be appended to the opinion.

24. How is the CVMP opinion structured?

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion will include:

  • a cover page in which the adopted opinion is outlined together with the voting outcome of CVMP;
  • a listing of all veterinary medicinal products concerned, including the names of all identified products involved in the procedure and their respective marketing authorisation holders (MAHs) in each Member State;
  • the scientific grounds and explanations for the CVMP opinion;
  • the harmonised summary of product characteristics/labelling/package leaflet, if applicable;
  • the conditions or restrictions imposed on the marketing authorisation(s), if applicable;
  • the conditions for lifting the suspension of the marketing authorisation(s), if applicable;
  • any divergent views of CVMP members, in case the opinion is adopted by majority;
  • the CVMP assessment report on the evaluation of all the data submitted and the conclusion of the CVMP that led to the adoption of the opinion.
25. When is the CVMP opinion published?

A brief outcome of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion will be included in the CVMP meeting highlights that are released on the Friday of the CVMP plenary meeting week.

Questions & Answers document and all annexes of the CVMP opinion will be published on the Agency’s website following the adoption of the European Commission Decision (please refer to Question 30).

26. Will I receive the CVMP opinion?

The designated contact person representing the marketing authorisation holder (MAH) (please refer to Question 6) identified at the start of the procedure, will receive the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion and assessment report following their adoption.

27. When and how can I request a re-examination of the CVMP opinion?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) may, within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion, notify the Agency in writing of its intention to request a re-examination of the CVMP opinion. The request must be submitted via email to vet.applications@ema.europa.eu within the stated timeline.

In case this deadline is not respected, the request for re-examination is considered inadmissible and the CVMP opinion becomes final and will be sent to the European Commission (EC) for the initiation of the decision-making process.

Re-examination

If, within 15 calendar days of receipt of the CVMP opinion, the applicant/MAH has notified the Agency in writing of its intention to request a re-examination of the CVMP opinion, the Agency will inform the CVMP and new CVMP (co-)rapporteurs will be appointed for the re-examination procedure.

The detailed grounds for the re-examination requested should be sent to the Agency within 60 calendar days of receipt of the CVMP opinion. The detailed grounds for re-examination must be sent within the stated timelines. In case these deadlines are not respected, the request for re-examination is considered inadmissible and the CVMP opinion becomes final.

The detailed grounds submitted will determine the scope of the re-examination procedure and may encompass all aspects set out in the CVMP opinion or only certain aspects of it. However, no new data can be presented and considered at this stage of the procedure.

The re-examination procedure will only deal with the aspects of the CVMP opinion identified by the MAH in the detailed grounds for re-examination. The MAH may request that the CVMP consults a scientific advisory group (SAG) or ad-hoc expert group (AHEG) during the re-examination procedure. In such a case, this request should be made as early as possible, and should be no later than the submission date of the detailed grounds.

Within 60 calendar days of receipt of the detailed grounds for re-examination, the CVMP will conclude its assessment of the detailed grounds and adopt a final opinion.

The CVMP final opinion following re-examination will be sent to the European Commission for the initiation of the decision-making process.

28. When do I have to submit translations?

The marketing authorisation holder (MAH) will have to provide translations in all EU languages (including Icelandic and Norwegian, if applicable*) of the following annexes to the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) opinion:

  • listing of veterinary medicinal products concerned by the procedure;
  • the harmonised summary of product characteristics/labelling/package leaflet

The Agency will contact the MAH as early as possible to ensure the smooth running of the process. The translations will have to be provided to the Member States contact points for linguistic check by Day +5 (i.e. 5 days after adoption of the opinion) and copied to the Agency. Member States may send linguistic comments until Day +19. The MAH should send the translations amended accordingly together with the completed QRD form 2 to the Agency by Day +22.

Detailed information on the translation process of the CVMP opinion will be included in the letter notifying the adoption of the CVMP opinion.


* If authorised in Iceland and Norway

29. What happens after the final opinion of the CVMP on the Article 34 referral procedure?

Following receipt of the CVMP opinion and after the translation process has been finalised, the European Commission will start the decision-making process leading to the adoption of a binding decision addressed to the Member States and notified to the marketing authorisation holder (MAH).

Detailed information on the decision-making process can be found here.

The Co-ordination Group for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised Procedures – Veterinary (CMDv) recommendation for implementation of Commission Decisions can be found here.

30. Will there be any publication in relation to the Article 34 referral procedure after the European Commission Decision?

Around four weeks after the adoption of the European Commission Decision, a Questions & Answers document summarising the subject and outcome of the referral procedure, as well as all annexes of the CVMP opinion in all EU languages will be published on the Agency’s website.

How helpful is this page?

Average rating:

 Based on 41 ratings

Add your rating:

See all ratings
8 ratings
8 ratings
9 ratings
8 ratings
8 ratings
    

Tell us more