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In a notice posted to its website, Health Canada gave advance warning that the agency is considering an eCTD filing requirement, or eCTD mandate, that would take effect as early as January 1, 2018. Health Canada is asking for stakeholders to submit comments by August 31, 2016. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
eCTD templates set the tone at the early stage of drug development for a smooth, standardized presentation of information in future regulatory submissions. Templates are favorable when compared to creating documents from scratch. Authoring templates make it easier to write summary documents and easily repurpose information from multiple reports without worrying about reformatting. High-quality documents are a precursor to successful submissions. Leveraging templates is one way to help make this possible.
The focal points of eCTD v4.0 like document reuse, enhanced lifecycle control and more liberal use of metadata, and the ability to alter that metadata if errors are made, are countermeasures to the limitations of eCTD v3.2.2. Overall, these enhancements represent common sense solutions that give regulatory professionals a more efficient way of doing business.
Much fanfare has surrounded the Next Major Version (NMV) of eCTD or eCTD 4 since the group I chaired formed in 2005 and developed initial requirements for the standard. You’ve likely sat in on eCTD 4 presentations at industry conferences and heard secondhand of the deliberations, ballots and revisions going on behind the scenes. In short, we’ve all been waiting for things to happen. Well, things have happened. As a member of the Expert Working Group (EWG) first tasked with developing eCTD 4, I’m proud to report that agencies, vendors and sponsors in each ICH region can get started on implementation. ICH announced that it had reached Step 4 and adopted a harmonized guideline on the eCTD 4 Implementation Package for Modules 2 through 5. Let’s review some of the key concepts of eCTD 4 to get an idea of what will change when this standard is implemented down the road.
In recent weeks, sponsors filing eCTD submissions to FDA have reported instances of Refuse to Receive (RTR) notifications for failure to provide a fillable Form 3674. These actions indicate that the Agency is stepping up enforcement in this area as it aims to process even more submissions automatically. Using industry presentations and guidance documents, FDA has previously stated that sponsors “must” include fillable forms. The Agency has also made it clear that scanned images of FDA forms “will not be accepted.” Based on the information made public by FDA to date and the experience of sponsors in recent months, the most logical strategy moving forward is to provide a fillable form where one is available.
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.