Well,it’s back to business after the holiday break… and as promised, here’s my update on what’s happening at Health Canada.
At the recent DIA eSubmissions conference, Health Canada’s Vianney Caron presented an update on eCTD at Health Canada.
The E-Review Program
The purpose of Health Canada’s E-Review program is to support branch business processes throughout the health product life cycle across product lines using an integrated secure electronic environment that facilitates the exchange of information and conforms to international standards.
Health Canada has made a lot of progress in E-Review recently. Important milestones achieved include:
Regulatory Activities in eCTD Format
Metrics were provided on eCTDs received:
Cumulative through September of 2009:
Totals for 2009 (as of September), received from 53 sponsors:
Health Canada is not seeing a significant rise in applications and sequences received, such as has been experienced by the FDA and EMEA – perhaps because they still require at least part of the dossier in paper. As of 2009, 8.7% of regulatory activities are received in eCTD format.
Sponsors are improving the quality of their submissions to Health Canada. In 2009, 4.5% of sequences failed validation. This is down considerably from previous years: 8.3% failed in 2008 and 11% failed in 2007.
Top 10 errors and warnings encountered during validation include:
1. Inactive bookmarks -no link destination
2. Inactive hyperlinks -no link destination
3. External links -pointing to the folder or destination that does not exist in the folder structure on the CD/DVD. The folder or destination would only exist in the sponsor’s repository.
4. Incorrect naming of the 3011 form; correct name is hc-sc-3011-en.pdf
5. Unreferenced files in the index.xml or ca.regional.xml
6. Life cycle management of the document: invalid file reference or no previous ID found
7. Subfolders created in ca regional folder
8. Missing top level folder
9. Missing attestation letter; content as per eCTD Guidance, letter needs to be dated and signed
10. Printed content of MD-5 Checksum does not match the one in the index-md5.txt file
Preliminary Experience with eCTD
Health Canada reports that they have buy-in from all stakeholders, but no legal basis to make eCTD mandatory. They continue to experience logistical and process issues. Reviewers perceive that paper & electronic in parallel is difficult and the process is excessively manual. Validation is perceived as an extra step. Other review issues including understanding lifecycle management in the eCTD and dealing with scanned documents and resolution of graphics.
Some upcoming milestones include the retirement of hybrid submissions as of January 2010 (this month). A date is yet to be announced for accepting fully electronic submissions.
Assessment of Hybrid Pilot
Health Canada surveyed reviewers participating in their hybrid pilot with some interesting results:
Next Steps at Health Canada
Health Canada defined their next steps as:
Health Canada closed by saying that they strongly recommend electronic submissions in eCTD format, and support the development of common standards. They will be expanding the existing infrastructure to support as many application types across product line as possible. Questions can be sent to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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