Data Analysis and Real World Interrogation Network (DARWIN EU)
This capability is called the Data Analysis and Real World Interrogation Network (DARWIN EU®).
DARWIN EU delivers real-world evidence from across Europe on diseases, populations and the uses and performance of medicines.
DARWIN EU supports regulatory decision-making by:
- establishing and expanding a catalogue of observational data sources for use in medicines regulation;
- providing a source of high-quality, validated real world data on the uses, safety and efficacy of medicines;
- addressing specific questions by carrying out high-quality, non-interventional studies, including developing scientific protocols, interrogating relevant data sources and interpreting and reporting study results.
The range of approved healthcare databases enabling distributed data access via DARWIN EU will evolve and expand over time.
The former HMA/EMA Big Data Task Force originally recommended developing DARWIN EU. The creation of DARWIN EU features in the EMA-HMA Big Data Steering Group workplan and the European medicines agencies network strategy to 2025.
For more information:
DARWIN EU will connect the European medicines regulatory network to the European Commission's European Health Data Space (EHDS), an initiative to promote better exchange and access to different types of health data.
While the needs and use cases of medicine regulators and decision-makers will drive DARWIN EU's development, DARWIN EU also contributes to developing the EHDS and the joint action to deliver European principles for the secondary use of health data, known as Towards European Health Data Space (TEHDAS).
Acting as an early flagship 'pathfinder' for the EHDS, DARWIN EU will enable the exchange of healthcare data for use in healthcare delivery, policy-making and research across Europe, while fully complying with data protection requirements.
For more information:
EMA is the principal user of DARWIN EU, by requesting studies to support its scientific evaluations and regulatory decision-making.
EMA also plays a central role in developing, launching and maintaining DARWIN EU, by:
- providing strategic direction and setting standards;
- overseeing the coordination centre and monitoring its performance;
- ensuring close links to European Commission policy initiatives, particularly the EHDS, and delivering pilots;
- reporting to EMA's Management Board, the HMA and European Commission.
A service provider acts as the DARWIN EU Coordination Centre and be responsible for setting up the network and managing its day-to-day operations.
EMA is working with Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam to:
- establish the DARWIN EU Coordination Centre, and support its work to build a distributed data network;
- conduct scientific studies and answer research questions supporting regulatory decision-making by EMA scientific committees and the European medicines regulatory network;
- maintain a catalogue of real world data sources for use in the regulatory context and their metadata.
The DARWIN EU Coordination Centre will be a key user of the future EHDS.
The contract was awarded to Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam following a call for tender for a service provider published in June 2021.
For more information:
To support the establishment of the DARWIN EU, a DARWIN EU Advisory Board:
- provides strategic advice and recommendations to the project team on establishing DARWIN EU and its use of the EHDS;
- ensures coordination and alignment of the project with relevant European and EU Member State initiatives and policies;
- supports communication on DARWIN EU with the European medicines regulatory network, stakeholders and the EHDS.
For more information:
For the agendas and minutes of Advisory Board meetings, see:
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 6 February 2023
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 8 September 2022
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 6 July 2022
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 20 April 2022
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 16 February 2022
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 12 November 2021
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 20 September 2021
- DARWIN EU Advisory Board meeting: 28 June 2021
DARWIN EU collaborates with data partners who help generate real-world evidence that can be used in scientific evaluations and regulatory decision-making.
Data partners enable DARWIN EU to use their data in its scientific studies and provide results and analyses to the DARWIN EU coordination centre, in accordance with data protection rules.
Public and private institutions with access to real-world healthcare data can apply to be a DARWIN EU data partner in 2023.
A call for expressions of interest is open to organisations overseeing a variety of data sources, such as hospitals, primary care providers, health insurance providers, patient registries and biobanks.
Visit the DARWIN EU website for more information and how to apply.
In 2023, DARWIN EU aims to onboard ten new data partners and initiate sixteen studies using real-world data.
In 2022, DARWIN EU onboarded its first ten data partners and initiated its first four studies.
Data partners were selected after consulting the DARWIN EU Advisory Board and following the prioritisation criteria below:
- Continuous data collection (at least annual data updates)
- A lag time of less than six months in data availability for analysis and capture of health outcomes and medicines prescribing or dispensing
- Data converted into the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) common data model
The DARWIN EU data partners onboarded in 2022 are listed below:
DARWIN EU is expected to bring on board a minimum of ten data partners every year.
To find all DARWIN EU study protocols and reports, use the European Union electronic Register of Post-Authorisation Studies (EU PAS Register).
On the EU PAS Register, search for DARWIN EU in the 'title of study' field.
In February 2022, EMA selected a service provider (Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam) to deliver DARWIN EU, following a call for tender.
In 2022 and 2023, the service provider will:
- set up DARWIN EU's operational processes and governance structures;
- run pilot studies with data from DARWIN EU, to support EMA scientific committees and down-stream decision-makers in their decision-making and support the establishment of the EHDS.
In 2024, EMA expects DARWIN EU to be fully operational. At this stage, DARWIN EU will routinely support the evaluation work of EMA's scientific committees and the national competent authorities.
Organisations such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Health technology assessment bodies and payers may make use of DARWIN EU in the longer term.
Figure 1: Overview of DARWIN EU timelines
Select service provider to deliver the DARWIN EU Coordination Centre
Establish DARWIN EU Advisory Board
Support EHDS pilot
DARWIN EU establishment and pilot mode
Define governance structures, contract models and processes
Run early pilot studies to support EMA committees
Provide first catalogue of real world data sources and standard analyses
Establish connectivity with EHDS
Developing and using DARWIN EU
Launch publicly-available DARWIN EU website
Work with established data permit authorities
Test business process to access and analyse healthcare data
Run pilot studies to support more EMA committees
Full operation mode
Conduct studies and answer questions to support EMA scientific committees and national competent authorities
DARWIN EU fully operational with involvement of data partners and medicine regulators
Leverage the EU Health Data Space
Increase geographical coverage, scope and regulatory uses of healthcare data in DARWIN EU