New Draft Guidance Elaborates on the Definition of “Applicable Drug Clinical Trial” under FDAAA Title VIII; Most Bioequivalence Studies are Exempt from RegistrationDecember 15, 2008
By Kurt R. Karst –
We previously reported on concerns as to whether a company submitting an ANDA (or a 505(b)(2) application) containing the results of an in vivo bioequivalence study must certify on Form FDA 3674 that new Public Health Service Act (“PHS Act”) § 402(j), as added by Title VIII of the FDA Amendments Act (“FDAAA”), applies and that in vivo bioequivalence studies have been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov. Specifically, it has been unclear whether an in vivo bioequivalence study is an “applicable drug clinical trial” subject to the PHS Act § 402(j) databank registration requirements. PHS Act § 402(j)(1)(A) defines an “applicable drug clinical trial” to mean “a controlled clinical investigation, other than a phase 1 clinical investigation, of a drug subject to [FDC Act § 505] . . . .” (emphasis added). In September 2008, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (“GPhA”) sent a letter to Representative John Dingell (D-MI) expressing concern “that FDA will incorrectly interpret the statute to include bioequivalence studies as ‘applicable drug clinical trials,’” and strongly urging that Congress “amend the definition of ‘applicable drug clinical trial’ at PHS Act § 402(j)(1)(A)(iii) to specifically exclude bioequivalence studies.”
Earlier this month, a draft document was posted on the ClinicalTrials.gov FDAAA website elaborating on the applicability of the FDAAA Title VIII requirements to bioequivalence studies. (The draft guidance also discusses the term “applicable clinical trial” generally as it applies to drugs – including biological products – and medical devices, and the term “responsible party” for purposes of the entity or individual responsible for registering and submitting clinical trial information to the clinical trials registry data bank.) According to the draft guidance:
In the agency’s view, a clinical investigation designed to demonstrate that an investigational drug product is bioequivalent to a previously approved drug product, or to demonstrate comparative bioavailability of two products (such as for purposes of submitting an abbreviated new drug application under 21 USC § 355(j) or a new drug application as described in 21 USC § 355(b)(2)) is considered to be a controlled clinical investigation. In this case, the control generally would be the previously approved drug product.
Although a bioequivalence study is a controlled clinical investigation, the draft guidance goes on to note that:
Under certain circumstances, a clinical investigation designed to demonstrate that an investigational drug product is bioequivalent to a previously approved drug product, or to demonstrate comparative bioavailability of two products (such as for purposes of submitting an abbreviated new drug application under 21 USC § 355(j) or a new drug application as described in 21 USC § 355(b)(2)) will be considered to be a Phase 1 clinical investigation under 21 CFR § 312.21 for purposes of determining whether a particular clinical trial is an “applicable drug clinical trial” under Title VIII of PL 110‐85 (section 402(j)(1)(A)(iii) of the PHS Act). Although Phase 1 clinical investigations are generally designed to fit sequentially within the development plan for a particular drug, and to develop the data that will support beginning Phase 2 studies, 21 CFR § 312.21(a) does not limit Phase 1 trials to that situation. Bioequivalence or comparative bioavailability studies that fall within the scope of the studies described in 21 CFR § 320.24(b)(1), (2), and (3) share many of the characteristics of Phase 1 clinical investigations as described in 21 CFR § 312.21(a), and therefore will be considered to be Phase 1 trials for purposes of Title VIII of PL 110-85. However, bioequivalence or comparative bioavailability trials that fall within the scope of 21 CFR § 320.24(b)(4) do not share the characteristics of Phase 1 trials as described in 21 CFR § 312.21(a), and thus would not be considered to be Phase 1 trials for purposes of Title VIII of PL 110-85. [(emphasis added)]
Bioequivalence studies that fall within the scope of 21 CFR § 320.24(b)(4) and that are not exempt from reporting on ClinicalTrials.gov are generally clinical endpoint studies. According to an FDA Manual of Policies and Procedures, such studies are typically “applied to dosage forms intended to deliver the active moiety locally, forms that are not intended to be absorbed, or drug products for which traditional pharmacokinetic studies are not feasible,” such as drug products in topical dosage forms.
Although the draft guidance posted on the ClinicalTrials.gov FDAAA website would exempt most bioequivalence studies from reporting under federal requirements, under a Maine law that is still in effect (and that might not be preempted for a few years), a “covered clinical trial,” which includes a bioequivalence study, initiated on or after October 15, 2002 must be reported. Under the Maine law and its implementing regulations, bioequivalence studies must be registered and the results posted if the generic drug is approved by FDA and is or has been “dispensed, administered, delivered or promoted in Maine.”