In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive 98/79/EC

Understanding the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive (98/79/EC)

Understanding the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive (98/79/EC)


In vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) are subject to the European Directive 98/79/EC (IVDD). A subgroup of medical products, their market access, use, and market surveillance is regulated. The IVDD is implemented in the national laws of the member states.

The reorganisation of the IVDD with the aim of a reclassification of diagnostics is currently in progress, along with a corresponding update of the common technical specifications. Based upon the results of the public consultation initiated by the Commission in summer 2010, a revision of the IVDD includes modifications of the classification system. This may have consequences for the conformity assessment of single products or product groups.

According to the IVDD, in vitro diagnostic medical devices include: reagents, reagent products, calibration materials, control materials, kits, instruments, apparatus, equipment, and systems that are intended for use in the examination of specimens taken from the human body (tissue, blood, urine, etc.) to diagnose diseases, to monitor a person’s state of health, or to monitor therapeutic procedures.

Examples of in vitro diagnostic medical devices are:

  • Hepatitis or HIV tests
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Coagulation test systems
  • Urine test strips
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Blood sugar monitoring systems for diabetics
  • Receptacles manufactured specifically for medical specimens

Accessories for IVDs

Accessories include items that themselves are not in vitro diagnostic medical devices, but are intended for use with those devices. Under the Directive, accessories are treated as separate in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

  • Devices for self-testing - Devices for self-testing form a special IVD group. These IVDs are intended by the manufacturer to be used by laypersons in a home environment, for example pregnancy tests.
  • Devices for performance evaluation - Devices to be used in performance evaluation studies outside the manufacturer’s facility must also conform to the relevant requirements of the Directive.

Products that are used only for veterinary medicine as well as products for general laboratory use are not subject to the IVD Directive. Sampling devices that are invasive are subject to Directive 93/42/EEC on Medical Devices.


The IVDD defines the manufacturer as the natural/legal person who is responsible for the design, manufacture, packaging, and labelling of a finished device for the purpose of marketing under his/her own name, regardless of whether these activities are performed by that person him or herself or by a third party acting on his/her behalf.

The manufacturer according to the IVDD will pass on the relevant requirements to suppliers of semi finished products and components. Thus, the suppliers will also be affected by a part of these regulations. Manufacturers of finished IVD products outside the EU must have a representative within the EU.


Annex I of the IVDD requires that the safety and health of patients, users, and any third party must not be endangered by proper use of the product, and that any possible product risk, compared with the associated benefit, is acceptable.

The principle of integrated safety applies, i.e. risk avoidance and risk minimisation in the design and manufacture of the product, protective measures against residual risks, and appropriate information of users. The generally acknowledged state of the art must be applied. The product must be suited for the intended use, and the assigned performance characteristics must be ensured for the lifetime of the product.

In addition to these general requirements, there are other requirements that apply above all to the design and manufacture of the devices and refer to:

  • Chemical and physical characteristics (compatibility with the material to be tested)
  • Protection against infection and microbial contamination (processing, packaging)
  • Suitability for use under the respective environmental conditions (risk minimisation)
  • Combination with other products, disposal
  • Measurement function (precision, display)
  • Protection against radiation (intentional or unintentional radiation, ionising radiation)
  • Protection against electric shocks, electromagnetic compatibility
  • Protection against mechanical or thermal risks
  • Use by laypersons: easy to use, low risk of incorrect interpretation of results (products for self-testing only)
  • Provision of information by the manufacturer (labeling, instructions)


The IVDD distinguishes four different groups - based on the risk associated with the use of the respective products. All products in List A and List B require the participation of a Notified Body in all aspects of the conformity assessment procedure.

  • List A

    List A of Annex II contains the products with the highest potential risk. They include reagents, calibrators, and controls for the determination of:

    • blood groups (ABO system, rhesus, anti-Kell);
    • HIV-1/-2 infections, HTLV-I/-II infections, and hepatitis B, C, and D.
  • List B

    List B of Annex II contains high-risk products (reagents, calibrators, and controls unless otherwise stated):

    • for the determination of blood groups (anti-Duffy and anti-Kidd);
    • for determination of irregular anti-erythrocytic antibodies;
    • for the detection of rubella and toxoplasmosis;
    • for the detection of phenylketonuria;
    • for the detection of infections with cytomegalovirus or chlamydia;
    • for the detection of the tumor marker PSA;
    • for the determination of HLA tissue types DR, A, B;
    • for the evaluation of the risk of trisomy 21, including software;
    • products for self-diagnosis of blood sugar levels, including instruments.
  • Devices for self-testing

    These devices are subject to special requirements which are described in Annex I, Section 7 of the IVDD.

    • The product must be easy to use for laypersons, and the enclosed instructions must be easy to understand.
    • The risk of errors in use or in the interpretation of results must be kept as low as possible.
    • Where possible, such devices must include a user control which allows verification of correct performance at the time of use.

    Devices for self-testing require the participation of a Notified Body in the conformity assessment procedure. The aspect of self-testing is of special interest in the evaluation by the Notified Body.

    Note: Products for determining blood sugar levels are exempted from this device group (see List B).

  • Other IVD Products

    Products that are neither listed in Annex II nor intended for self-testing do not require involvement of a Notified Body in the conformity assessment procedure. Typical examples are clinical chemistry tests or tests for thyroid function.


  • Recognised medical device expertise - TÜV SÜD Product Service is the largest EU Notified Body in the world. TÜV SÜD Product Service is recognised by regulatory authorities around the world for its extensive experience with all types of medical devices.
  • Industry specific proficiency - TÜV SÜD Product Service has industry specific know how on medical products and testing and certification in accordance with Directive for Active Implantable Medical Devices 90/385/EEC (AIMD), Directive on Medical Devices 93/42/EEC (MDD), and Directive on In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices 98/79/EC (IVDD).
  • Active involvement in standards development and implementation - TÜV SÜD Product Service technical professionals are actively involved in standards development activities related to medical devices, and participate in a number of key standards committees. TÜV SÜD Product Service is also a member of Team NB, the European Association for Medical Devices of Notified Bodies, which facilitates the exchange of information on standards and regulations applicable to medical devices. 
  • Single source solution - TÜV SÜD Product Service offers testing services for major medical device markets according to international standards and regulations.


TÜV SÜD laboratories are accredited to the requirements of ISO 17025 by the Singapore Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (SAC-SINGLAS). Its reports and certificates are widely accepted around the world.


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