Sep 23, 2014

Health Canada regularly publishes performance data with respect to Medical Device License applications (Class 2-4); however, the data publically available for Medical Device Establishment License (MDEL) applications has generally been limited.  To gain a better understanding of MDEL applications, Emergo's Vancouver office contacted Health Canada under Canada’s Access to Information Act asking for the following information:

  1. The number of active Medical Devices Establishment Licenses and where the license holders are located.
  2. The type of activity of the MDEL holders (Class 1 manufacturer, importer or distributor).
  3. The average review time for a new MDEL submission over the period of 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 and the average review time for a MDEL renewal (Annual Review) over the same period.
  4. The amount of total fees collected by Health Canada for MDEL holders and the average fees for MDEL holders that were subject to fees.

Health Canada’s reply can be summarized as follows:

  1. Health Canada disclosed that there were 2473 MDELs issued as of March 31, 2014, of which:
    1. 1784 (72%) licence holders were based in Canada,
    2. 581 (23%) license holders were based in the United States,
    3. the remaining 108 (4%) were spread across 24 other countries.
  2. Regarding activity:
    1. 602 (24%) of the MDEL holders were registered solely as Manufacturers of Class 1 medical devices
    2. 547 (22%) of the MDEL holders were importers only (the Health Canada definition of “importer” means that they are based in Canada).
    3. Of the 378 (15%) MDEL holders that identified distribution as their only activity, 195 were based outside of Canada (96% of these were based in the US).
  3. For Health Canada’s last fiscal year (ending 31 March 2014), they reported that new MDEL applications were taking an average of 53 calendar days to review.  Over the same period, the average review time for a MDEL Annual Review (renewal) was 44 days.
  4. With respect to MDEL fees, Health Canada disclosed:
    1. 2382 MDEL holders had initiated the renewal of their MDEL prior to 31 March 2014, of which 2118 MDEL holders paid a total of $8.9 Million.
    2. 820 MDEL holders paid a full MDEL fee ($7344) [Note: the HC report mistakenly stated 870 companies.]
    3. 1298 MDEL holders received some level of fee remission (based on sales).  
    4. 186 MDEL holders paid $0 (no sales). 
    5. 264 MDEL holders had their fees deferred to the next year (i.e. new licensees)
    6. Of the $8.9 million collected in MDEL fees, a total of $6 million was collected from those MDEL holders that did not receive a fee remission Therefore, of the 1,298 MDEL holders that received a fee remission the average fee was $2283, which equates to a reduction of approximately $5000 for each MDEL holder in this scenario.

The key takeaways from the data collected from Health Canada on Medical Device Establishment Licenses are:

(1) Health Canada takes between 40 and 55 days to review MDEL renewal and new MDEL applications, respectively.

(2) Companies that apply for a fee remission as part of the MDEL Annual Review pay an average of $5000 less in fees for their MDELs.


  • Stewart Eisenhart