eCTD Requirements and cost effective solutions

 Electronic Common Technical Document -eCTD

eCTD is a harmonized regulatory filing format widely accepted by several countries. ICH adopted countries have common modules 2,3,4 and 5  and customized administrative module 1 according to country specific requirements.

Contents of  e-CTD

  • ICH recommended CTD  folder structure
  • XML backbone containing metadata such as document id, document  version, hyperlinks, file title and leaf operation
  • Regional module  XML backbone, files and folders (such as application form and cover letter) 
  • Documents in the word, pdf , xpt or other agency recommended format
  • Checksum  values for documents and XML backbone
eCTD folder
Typical folder structure of eCTD Initial application

Why eCTD  format  ?

eCTD offers systematic approach for regulatory filings in the digital format. Regulatory agencies can easily track life cycle of the regulatory submissions.  Application holder can easily replace the documents and submit the updated, append   or delete the document .

Advantages of eCTD

  • Regulatory life cycle tracking at application and document level
  • Document integrity – Checksum  is the fingerprint of the document. Change in the document generates the different checksum.
  • Easy to review – Agencies can easily search required information and hyperlinking helps agencies to navigate to cross linked information
  • Applicants can cross the link the information provided in the previous submissions
  • Helps applicants to easily  replace, append or delete documents which  reviewing agencies can easily track

How to prepare eCTD ?

ICH (International Conference for Harmonization) has published harmonized  eCTD specification  for  module 2 to module 5 . Module 1 specification are established by country specific agencies. There are several softwares available in the market for e CTD publishing. You can publish  eCTD without software, however it is too  complex task and requires XML editing knowledge.    Before  publishing eCTD,  you may  have to insert bookmark, table of contents , hyperlinks and prepare the PDF documents as per the regulatory agency standards. Links for agency specific documents are provided below.

 US FDA specification for PDF files

EU requirements for  PDF   files (refer page # 10 of 60)

Some eCTD software  vendors offer advanced features in their application such as optimizing PDF as per regulatory agency requirements and  in built hyperlinking tools.

In house publishing vs outsourcing ?

In house publishing involves other aspects apart from buying the software. You should consider the below factors before buying the software.

  1. Cost of the publishing software
  2. Annual maintenance cost
  3. If you have multiple users, you may have to maintain the server
  4. Training of in-house employees
  5. You may have to buy PDF plugins (incase, PDF optimization is not included in the software)
  6. Bookmarking and hyperlinking PDF


FDAbasics can assist your company to publish , validate and submit  regulatory  applications in e-CTD format  with most competitive pricing, contact us for more information  

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