Medical devices

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you use or manufacture medical devices? To introduce a medical device onto the European market it must comply with the legal requirements. Your product must be safe for patients. Therefore you will need to perform (clinical) research and your product needs CE-marking. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) is the supervisory body for medical devices.

What are medical devices?

Medical devices are products used for diagnoses and treatments in the healthcare sector or products that can help prevent or predict diseases or disorders. For instance:

  • wheelchairs
  • breast implants
  • surgical instruments
  • pacemakers
  • software

If you are not sure if your product is a medical device, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) provides a detailed overview of what products are seen as a medical device.

In vitro diagnostics

In vitro diagnostics (IVDs) are a separate type of medical devices. They are used to examine samples from body materials, such as

  • urine tests
  • pregnancy tests
  • blood glucose meters

Risks of medical devices

Medical devices are classified according to risk. The more risk there is for the patient, the more strict the inspections are to assess if a medical device will be allowed onto the market. There are 4 categories:

  • I medical devices with low risk (such as adhesive bandages)
  • IIa medical devices with moderate risk (such as hypodermic needles)
  • II2 medical devices with moderate to high risk (for instance anesthesisia machines)
  • III medical devices that come into direct contact with the heart, the central circulatory system or the central nervous system (for instance cardiac catheters and contraceptive coils)

You can check how devices are qualified in Annex IX of the European Directive on medical devices 93/42/EEC.

Please note: From 26 May 2021, the new Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) will be in place. This means among others that safety requirements for such products will change. If you work with medical devices in the health sector or are a manufacturer, importer or distributor, you need to prepare for these upcoming changes in law.

Clinical evaluation

Before you market a medical device you need to do a medical evaluation. You perform laboratory tests on the safety of your product. In some cases you will need to conduct a clinical investigation. You must notify the Health and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) of clinical research.

CE marking

Every medical device on the European market must have CE marking. CE marking means your product complies with the legal requirements. For Class I medical devices (non-sterile and/or non-measuring) you assess if the product complies with the Medical Devices Directive. If this is the case you may put the CE marking on the product.

Medical devices Class IIa, IIb and III must be inspected by an independent authority (Notified Body). If this authority approves the product you will receive a CE certificate. Only then are you allowed to market the medical device.

Notifying medical devices

Some medical devices, for instance those devices in risk class I and all IVDs, must be registered (notified) with Farmatec. If it is the first time you register a product, you must also register your company. If you no longer supply the product or if there is a change in the product you must notify Farmatec.

Labelling and instructions for use

You must provide for clear labelling and instructions for use for medical devices and IVDs, so the patient can use the device safely and correctly. For medical devices in risk class I an instruction for use is not necessary if the patient can safely use it without instructions.

In the Netherlands the information on labels and instructions for use must be in Dutch. You should use language that is appropriate to the education and knowledge of the potential user. If possible, a manufacturer should also present the information in symbols. If you are certain your medical devices and IVDs will only be used by healthcare professionals with a good command of the English language, you may present the information solely in English.

The address of the manufacturer must be stated on the label. If the manufacturer is from outside the EU the address of the (authorised) representative must also be on the label, the packaging or in the instructions for use.

Reporting incidents and changes

As the manufacturer or representative you remain responsible for your product. You must keep track of it and if necessary improve it. If there is an incident in which your medical device is involved you must notify the inspectorate. You must also notify the inspectorate if you correct an issue with the product, for instance if you recall it or if you change the design or packaging.

National Implants Registry

The Dutch National Implants Registry (in Dutch) registers the implants that patients in the Netherlands have received, such as artificial hip joints, artificial cardiac pacemakers or breast implants. The Registry has nationwide coverage and registration has become mandatory. Patient information leaflets on implants are also mandatory. As of 2019 doctors are obliged to record data on implants in the patient's Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD) and inform the patient. The National Implants Registry will collect this data from the hospital's EPD, making it easier to trace patients with implants. Patients can use this information to report any side-effects of implants (in Dutch).

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO