Is regulatory innovation fit for purpose? A case study of adaptive regulation for advanced biotherapeutics
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The need to better balance the promotion of scientific and technological innovation with risk management for consumer protection has inspired several recent reforms attempting to make regulations more flexible and adaptive. The pharmaceutical sector has a long, established regulatory tradition, as well as a long history of controversies around how to balance incentives for needed therapeutic innovations and protecting patient safety. The emergence of disruptive biotechnologies has provided the occasion for regulatory innovation in this sector. This article investigates the regulation of advanced biotherapeutics in the European Union and shows that it presents several defining features of an adaptive regulation regime, notably institutionalized processes of planned adaptation that allow regulators to gather, generate, and mobilize new scientific and risk evidence about innovative products. However, our in-depth case analysis highlights that more attention needs to be paid to the consequences of the introduction of adaptive regulations, especially for critical stakeholders involved in this new regulatory ecosystem, the capacity and resource requirements placed on them to adapt, and the new tradeoffs they face. In addition, our analysis highlights a deficit in how we currently evaluate the performance and public value proposition of adaptive regulations vis-à-vis their stated goals and objectives.