IDMP is back: what next?

As ISO IDMP becomes a renewed priority for EMA, life sciences firms must redouble their efforts to ensure compliance by 2021. AMPLEXOR’s Siniša Belina proposes a practical way forward.

Although momentum may have faltered over the last 12-24 months in relation to preparations for ISO IDMP (the global standard for Identification of Medicinal Products), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has returned its focus to the standards. Implementation guidelines are now being finalised and deadlines are being set, which means that the countdown to compliance has begun. This in turn demands that companies move beyond simply having a vision and roadmap for delivering compliant submissions (as required by EMA from 2021), and start delivering against tangible plans. 

Many larger multinationals now have proof-of-concept projects to build on, which others can learn from. Some are even looking to the high-quality master data sets they are building to form the basis for process automation - for pre-filling regulatory submissions, for instance – with the potential for substantial efficiency gains, cost containment, and risk reduction benefits. 

But even though they may have established the their chosen approach to data management, and identified stakeholders and teams to deliver this, they now have some extensive groundwork to put in to locate all of the data, assess its completeness and quality, and establish how to fill any gaps. 

In the meantime, smaller organisations have tended to hang back, waiting to see what others do - less keen to make an investment until there is some real momentum behind IDMP. These companies could gain some advantage now – borrowing the conclusions of those who’ve considered IDMP compliance considerations from all angles, added to learnings from earlier experiences with IDMP’s predecessors, xEVMPD and - before that - eCTD.

The more you put in, the more you’ll get out

Those organisations that have put serious thought into IDMP preparations are now planning to maximise the data assets they must now build, first ensuring that these are available in a readily reusable form. 

This does not call for a dedicated IDMP data submission tool, however. Rather, the aim should be to transform existing internal data tracking and document preparation processes – for handling marketing submissions and updates, to the creation and management of labels and patient information leaflets on a global scale. Simply applying a dedicated IDMP submission solution risks generating new data silos which add no value for the business.

Automation opportunities

In advanced master data management scenarios, which AMPLEXOR has dubbed ‘MDM 2.0’, companies are able to exploit definitive, centralised product information to transform the way teams create important, routine documents. It is not unthinkable to expect document authoring automation rates of 90%+, paving the way for a ten-fold acceleration in preparing regulatory submissions and patient-facing materials. All of which reduces costs, and risk of error, while substantially improving speed to market.

It is not unthinkable to expect document authoring automation rates of 90%+.

Creating an IDMP strategy with master data at the centre is about creating something much bigger and more broadly applicable than IDMP. It involves investing in and building an agreed, single version of product truth with the potential to inform and be repurposed ad infinitum for numerous use cases. 

It is from this standpoint that companies are able to entertain plans for smarter document management, including structured authoring. Here, approved ‘fragments’ of content can be called up automatically and pulled into specific documents using smart templates, orchestrated by strict workflow rules that teams can control. In other industries, such as those involving complex engineering projects, this kind of practice happens as standard and is well proven. In repeat, routine scenarios, it is quite possible than 100% of document compilation and preparation, in any designated language, could be automated.  

Distilling new, actionable insights

Once firms have established rich, reliable master data resources, they have a chance to enhance them further with value-added, contextual information (about country-specific requirements, or a product’s global status across its lifecycle) which will more directly serve internal business agendas and enable desirable process improvements.

The richer the data that companies collect, the more they can do with it. In one case, a firm reviewed data about the Tobacco Mosaic Virus that had sat dormant within data archives for more than two decades, only to later discover that with modifications to the virus it was possible to cultivate medicines from tobacco plants.

Established data investments can continue to bear fruit long after the initial investment.

This is a powerful illustration of how established data investments can continue to bear fruit long after the initial investment. The key to taking full advantage of this is ensuring that complete details are captured up front, and can be readily called up and repurposed to support multiple different use cases in future.

Initiatives such as ISO IDMP are enforcing this kind of structure on pharmaceutical data for the first time, which could be the start of a new era of unprecedented data-based insights. Add artificial intelligence and powerful, large-scale data analytics into the mix, and it becomes easier and faster to search for new patterns and discoveries that might once have been impossible to detect. Where data is confined to static documents, or stored in one-dimensional formats, it is much harder to distil new insights from it. A fully-rounded, master data approach to product information unlocks its latent potential.

Seeing beyond submissions

It pays to think about product profiles and data sets in the broadest possible terms. While IDMP encompasses clinical indications, and contraindications and adverse reactions, for instance, an MDM 2.0 approach to data preparations might also encompass CMC data, structuring more of this for re-use and more readily accessible insights. After all, manufacturing is where most changes happen across a product’s lifecycle, which will have a bearing on what needs to be reported, and what must be reflected in all of its labelling and patient information. So it makes sense that this fuller profile information is built into product databases, alongside clinical and patient safety data. 

Companies that take an extended approach to their product data management efforts, could benefit from faster and more automated CMC document creation (e.g. Module 3 documents), and the ability to more efficiently and reliably assess the impact of manufacturing changes on regulatory obligations, down to a country by country level. This in turn would help with resource planning, adding further operational benefits. Meanwhile translations could be packaged for processing simultaneously, if the way is paved for documents to be auto-populated with already-approved translated blocks of content.

Companies that put in the groundwork now for broader data transformation will have a head start.

Last but not least, companies that put in the groundwork now for broader data transformation will have a head start when other geographical regions start to mandate IDMP-based requirements too, the US being expected to follow Europe before long. Certainly, more holistic data reporting and real-time product transparency is the way global market requirements are heading.

For now, the priority should be to review the early EMA implementation guidelines, decide which data to focus on first and how to structure it, so organisations can start to build out their improved data management capability.

About the author

Siniša Belina is a senior life sciences consultant within the AMPLEXOR Life Sciences Product Management team. He applies his detailed knowledge of pharmaceutical processes and documentation to the areas of business process analysis, optimisation of software solutions and demonstration of their capabilities. Siniša received his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Zagreb University.

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