Research and development

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) provides guidance and support to medicine developers. This includes scientific and regulatory information on how to design and run clinical trials, compliance standards, and obligations and incentives for developers of specialised medicines.

United Kingdom's (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU)

EMA has published important information to help users of the centralised procedure prepare for the expected consequences of 'Brexit', including their obligations related to establishment within the European Economic Area (EEA). For more information, see UK's withdrawal from the EU.

In this section

Early development advice services

EMA has developed a consolidated list of available guidance and opportunities for interaction in the development phase of a medicinal product.

EMA offers medicine developers several opportunities for early dialogue and consultation before submitting a marketing authorisation application. This is intended to provide regulatory and scientific support to facilitate the preparation of applications and enable a smooth validation and assessment procedure.

In addition to making use of these services, medicine developers can also:

Main procedural advice and guidance for medicine development

Area Guidance Key points
Scientific advice for human medicines Scientific Advice general information Scientific advice is advice to a medicine developer on the appropriate tests and studies in the development of a medicine
PDF iconGuidance for applicants seeking scientific advice and protocol assistance Protocol assistance is a special form of scientific advice, reserved for medicines with an orphan designation
How to submit a request Procedural advice for requestin scientific advice and protocol assistance
PDF iconParallel EMA-United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientific advice Parallel EMA-FDA scientific advice should focus primarily on important breakthrough drugs or important safety issues
Parallel consultation with regulators and health technology assessment bodies Provides feedback from regulators and HTA bodies at the same time, at any point in the developmental lifecycle of medicines.
Paediatric development General information Definitions, links to submission templates and deadline, and further information on paediatric procedures
European Commission Guideline on PIP/waiver applications Guideline from the European Commission on the format and content of applications for agreement or modification of a paediatric investigation plan (PIP)/waiver/modification
Questions and answers Procedural advice for PIP/waiver/modification submissions
Orphan drug designation General information and guidance How to apply, prevalence considerations, medical plausibility and significant benefit guidance
European Commission Guideline on orphan drug designation applications Guideline on the format and content of applications for designation as orphan product
Innovation task force (ITF) General information Includes the PDF iconITF mandate , guidance on how to apply for an ITF briefing meeting for human or veterinary development, and information on advanced therapy classification
PRIME scheme (PRIority MEdicines) PRIME general information PRIME provides enhanced support for the development of medicines that target an unmet medical need, that may offer a major therapeutic advantage over existing treatments, or benefit patients without treatment options
PDF iconGuidance EMA guidance on the scope and features of PRIME
Qualification of novel methodologies General information Scientific advice to support the qualification of innovative development methods (rather than a specific product) for a specific intended use in the context of research and development into pharmaceuticals
PDF iconGuidance Procedural advice


SME support


SME support Regulatory and administrative assistance by phone, email or teleconference, including SME office briefing meetings to discuss the regulatory strategy of a human or veterinary medicinal product and navigate the range of procedures and incentives. Quarterly newsletters, info days and training
PDF iconUser Guide for SMEs Provides an overview of procedures to support research and development activities and regulatory requirements to obtain a marketing authorisation
Applying for SME status Includes the SME declaration form and guidance for enterprises applying for SME status before requesting financial or administrative assistance from the Agency


Opportunities to interact with EMA during the development of a medicine

Area Type of interaction Key points
Scientific advice for human medicines Presubmission meeting for scientific advice or protocol assistance Aim: to facilitate validation and discuss the proposed questions. Submit a to approximately seven weeks in advance before the intended submission date
Paediatric development
Presubmission meeting Aim: to ensure smooth validation. Request a presubmission meeting with PDF iconletter of intent to, at least two months prior to PIP/waiver submission. See also: regulatory Q&A
Clarification of the PDCO requests for modification Aim: to clarify any details of the PDCO's requests for modification, during clock-stop. Request to See also: regulatory Q&A
Orphan drug designation Presubmission meeting Aim: to ensure smooth validation. Request a presubmission meeting with an email to, at least two months prior to submission of the orphan designation application
ITF ITF briefing meeting Send a request form to for human medicines (or for veterinary medicines)
PRIME scheme Queries Presubmission meetings are not held for PRIME. Queries prior to submission of PRIME eligibility requests can be addressed to
Qualification of novel methodologies Preparatory meeting Request a preparatory meeting sending the Microsoft Office document iconEMA letter of intent template or the Microsoft Office document iconjoint EMA-FDA letter of intent template to


SME support


SME office briefing meeting

Aim: to discuss the regulatory strategy of a product and navigate the range of procedures and incentives available to support development and authorisation. Contact the SME office on +44 (0)20 3660 8787 or



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