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.
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.
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.
The true challenge of eCTD migration is your impact analysis (i.e. downtime, architectural changes and environmental changes) and determining whether or not your selected vendor supports unwritten Agency rules. Bear in mind that subtle differences exist among vendors who have implemented eCTD systems. You need to ensure that your chosen vendor has experience migrating submissions, not only from your existing system, but from all systems that generated eCTD that you now have to manage.