On December 15, 2015, the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) endorsed Step 4 of the eCTD v4.0 Implementation Package v1.0. Step 4 signals that major stakeholders agree on guidance. ICH released its implementation guide in early April 2016 and regulators in the US and EU followed suit. Industry is taking very real steps to implement eCTD v4. I’ve compiled a list of expectations on timing and impact for eCTD v4.
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.
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.
Compound documents will not be part of the Regulated Product Submissions (RPS) standard. The decision was recently announced by the International Conference on Harmonisation’s (ICH) M8 working group which had been deliberating on a number of negative ballot comments registered in September 2013.