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The value of an early stage life science company is tied to its documentation. Transitioning from an informal environment where documents exist on local desktops, email exchanges and in extreme cases of old world technology, filing cabinets, to a structured, digital document system is a key step in securing a company’s intellectual property. Risk of losing files or the most recent versions of files, due to simple human error, increases in orders of magnitude as your stack of documents and team grows over time.
Many people erroneously believe that your first eCTD submission is restricted to a major milestone application – Investigational New Drug (IND) application, Biologics License Application (BLA) or New Drug Application (NDA). That’s simply not the case. It’s 100% possible to file pre-NDA meeting requests, meeting packages and meeting minutes via eCTD in advance of the original NDA submission.
Almost five years ago, I wrote a post outlining the process for converting a paper application into an eCTD application with FDA. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here we are in 2016, and, to the surprise of some and the consternation of many, paper applications are still alive and well. However, their days are numbered, with FDA’s eCTD mandate for certain application types set to take effect one year from today.
The FDA requirement to submit in eCTD format as of May 5, 2017 does not apply to Ad Promo submissions. As of today, the timeline for requirement of these submissions in eCTD is to be determined. Similar to the majority of regulatory requirement updates at FDA, the date effective clock doesn’t start counting down until guidance is finalized. The key indicator for Ad Promo eCTD submissions is the document titled – Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic and Non-Electronic Format – Promotional Labeling and Advertising Materials for Human Prescription Drugs. If FDA follows precedent, Ad Promo submissions will be required in eCTD format 2 years after the final guidance is published.
A rolling submission is done in waves. Sponsors submit completed sections for review, as opposed to waiting for the entire application to be finished. Smaller portions, as opposed to one large submission, are well suited for projects granted accelerated review timelines. We’re seeing that the means to pull off a rolling submission are available and the awarding of expedited pathway designations is motivating sponsors to proceed with a sense of urgency.
The International Conference on Harmonization recently published a new Specification for Submission Formats for eCTD document. The document achieved ICH step 4 classification, meaning it’s approved for use by all regions. Collapsing bookmarks when documents are opened, a requirement for unique headers or footers on all pages and a limited set of fonts that are recommended for embedding are among the most notable new rules.
Japan’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), one of the earliest adopters of eCTD, adheres to a number of unique business rules which create a unique implementation of the eCTD specifications. Information available on eCTD best practices is also limited for this region, primarily due to lower levels of submission activity. What do we already know about submitting eCTDs in Japan and what can we expect later this decade as they implement eCTD v4.0?
Submissions metrics for the US FDA’s new Module 1 shared with industry at the DIA RSIDM 2016 Forum paint a picture of modest activity for the enhanced specification. As of February 1, 2016, 117 companies submitted a total of 1,639 sequences of varying application and submission types.