Transferring an orphan designation

A transfer of the orphan designation is the procedure by which an orphan designation is transferred from the currently approved sponsor (the orphan designation holder) to a new sponsor, which is a different person/legal entity.

Update: From 19 September 2018, sponsors need to use the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) IRIS system to submit all post-designation activies. EMA will not be able to process any submissions outside of IRIS. For information and guidance on using IRIS, please see Applying for orphan designation.

A transfer may result from the designation holder's commercial decision to divest the orphan designation, or be needed in anticipation of the designation holder ceasing to exist as a legal entity and the orphan designation being taken over by another legal entity.

A transfer of the orphan designation can only be initiated once a designation has been granted by the European Commission.

If there is a need to change the sponsor during validation or evaluation of the application for orphan designation, the applicant who initially applied for the orphan designation is advised to contact EMA.

Transfers of orphan designations are free of charge. If a transfer is sought for several orphan designations, an application must be submitted for each designation (i.e. one application per designation).

A transfer of orphan designation does not include a transfer of marketing authorisation, which is subject to a different procedure. For more information, see Transfer of marketing authorisation: questions and answers.

Procedural guidance

To transfer an orphan designation, the sponsor needs to submit an application using the IRIS system, together with the documents described in the 'Checklist for sponsors applying for the transfer of Orphan Medicinal Product (OMP) designation' (see link below).

The Agency can only provide an opinion on the transfer if all documentation is complete and satisfactory. The Agency will issue an opinion within 30 days of submission of the documentation and the opinion will be forwarded to:

  • the existing sponsor;
  • the sponsor to whom the designation will be transferred;
  • the European Commission.

If the European Commission agrees to the transfer, it will amend the decision granting the orphan designation. The transfer is valid from the date of the notification of the amended decision.

A change of name and/or address of the orphan designation holder are not considered a transfer if the holder remains the same person/legal entity. Such change should be notified through the procedure for changing the name or address of a sponsor.

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