EMEA Update on eCTD Implementation

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Attending the DIA EU EDM Conference in December gave me a great opportunity to catch up on eCTD-related status and activities at various European agencies.

We heard from a number of presenters representing EMEA (now just European Medicines Agency), the MEB, Swissmedic, and AGES PharmMed. Since the updates are fairly lengthy, today I’ll cover EMEA, and will address the other agencies in a future posting.

Tim Buxton gave the update from the EMEA. He clarified what eCTD implementation means to this agency:

  • Electronic-only submissions are accepted
  • The eCTD is accepted as a ‘common currency’ for product marketing authorization applications – EMEA expects to receive marketing authorization applications & variations in eCTD format
  • The use of the eCTD is supported on the “agency side” by appropriate SOPs for receipt, validation, storage etc.
  • The use of the eCTD is supported on the “agency side” by appropriate business processes
  • The technical infrastructure is in place to support the foregoing

EMEA now receives over 500 eCTD sequences a month. In November, they also received 149 NeeS sequences. (A further update can be found in the recently published Update on the implementation of the EU Telematics strategy, which states that since July 1st 2008, over 2,500 eCTD submissions have been received by EMEA, and 406 centrally-authorised products are managed in eCTD format, representing more than two thirds of the total number of centrally-authorised products).

electronic Application Form (eAF)

Although this was an important initiative for the EMEA, adoption has not been good in the past because no tool was provided to create this XML document. The upcoming release of the eMF will include a Data Exchange Standard, receiving tool (initially EMEA only), authoring tool, and validation tool. Prototypes of the receiving tool and authoring tool under evaluation. Support for variations is still under development.


Likewise, for PIM, EMEA is delivering a Data Exchange Standard, PIM Review System, PIM Light Authoring Tool, and PIM Data Validation Engine. A statement of intent and migration details are still in pilot. The timetable for PIM (from the Statement of Intent) is:

  • Q2 2009: Detailed planning of migration and Proof of Concept
  • Q1 2010: Migration commences
  • Q3 2010: Planned end of pilot phase comes (no longer need permission to submit)
  • Q4 2011 (end): migration exercise complete

There has been a change of approach for migration to PIM – EMEA had planned to migrate sponsor’s data but sponsors want to do it themselves with “hand holding”.

eSubmission Gateway

The eSubmission Gateway is in production for ICSRs and has been tested for MAAs. Tim characterized the go-live of the gateway as “around the corner” (but said he was glad that he declined to commit to a date at the DIA annual back in June).

Digital Signatures

A limited pilot was being conducted for digital signatures, but is on hold right now due to other priorities. It won’t be completed in 2010, but may be implementatd in 2011. SAFE is a not the only valid form of eSig. Rules in some countries specify some types of electronic signatures. The EC has just released a call for ideas on how to harmonize eSignatures requirements across Europe. To quote Tim – “The storm for eSig is just around the corner – ignore at your own peril.”

Other Initiatives

Other current initiatives include identification of medicinal products, and ICSRs (update of E2B standard for better ID of medicinal products causing problems).
Upcoming initiatives include eCTD Next Major Version (Regulated Product Submissions) – by the way EMEA has just added a web page for this topic, including links to last year’s meeting minutes.

New Q&A/Change Request Tracking Table

In other EMEA news, a new version (V1.21) of the EU Telematics EU eCTD Change Request/Q&A Tracking Table has been posted.

This is an update following discussion of open CRs by the TIGes subgroup, and general review of status and presentation of all CRs. All closed/withdrawn/rejected/duplicated CRs have been moved to new worksheets; all CRs implemented in EU M1 v1.4 were moved to the appropriate ‘Implemented in EU M1 v1.4’ worksheet. Most importantly, all CRs for a potential EU M1 v1.4.1 (spec update only) have been identified and marked.

Author: GS

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