ICH Harmonised Tripartite Guideline Having reached Step 4 of the ICH Process at the ICH Steering Committee meeting  on 10 November 2005, this guideline is recommended for  adoption to the three regulatory parties to ICH


1.1 Objective of the Guideline This guideline describes the suggested contents for the 3.2.P.2 (Pharmaceutical Development) section of a regulatory submission in the ICH M4 Common Technical Document (CTD) format.  

The Pharmaceutical Development section provides an opportunity to present the knowledge gained through the application of scientific approaches and quality risk management (for definition, see ICH Q9) to the development of a product and its manufacturing process. It is first produced for the original marketing application and can be updated to support new knowledge gained over the lifecycle* of a product. The Pharmaceutical Development section is intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of the product and manufacturing process for reviewers and inspectors. The guideline also indicates areas where the demonstration of greater understanding of pharmaceutical and manufacturing sciences can create a basis for flexible regulatory approaches. The degree of regulatory flexibility is predicated on the level of relevant scientific knowledge provided.  

1.2 Scope This guideline is intended to provide guidance on the contents of Section 3.2.P.2 (Pharmaceutical Development) for drug products as defined in the scope of Module 3 of the Common Technical Document (ICH guideline M4). The guideline does not apply to contents of submissions for drug products during the clinical research stages of drug development. However, the principles in this guideline are important to consider during those stages as well. This guideline might also be appropriate for other types of products. To determine the applicability of this guideline to a particular type of product, applicants can consult with the appropriate regulatory authorities.


The aim of pharmaceutical development is to design a quality product and its manufacturing process to consistently deliver the intended performance of the product. The information and knowledge gained from pharmaceutical development studies and manufacturing experience provide scientific understanding to support the establishment of the design space*, specifications, and manufacturing controls.    

Information from pharmaceutical development studies can be a basis for quality risk management. It is important to recognize that quality* cannot be tested into products;



Pharmaceutical Development


i.e., quality should be built in by design. Changes in formulation and manufacturing processes during development and lifecycle management should be looked upon as opportunities to gain additional knowledge and further support establishment of the design space. Similarly, inclusion of relevant knowledge gained from experiments giving unexpected results can also be useful. Design space is proposed by the applicant and is subject to regulatory assessment and approval. Working within the design space is not considered as a change. Movement out of the design space is considered to be a change and would normally initiate a regulatory post approval change process.  

The Pharmaceutical Development section should describe the knowledge that establishes that the type of dosage form selected and the formulation proposed are suitable for the intended use. This section should include sufficient information in each part to provide an understanding of the development of the drug product and its manufacturing process. Summary tables and graphs are encouraged where they add clarity and facilitate review.

At a minimum, those aspects of drug substances, excipients, container closure systems, and manufacturing processes that are critical to product quality should be determined and control strategies justified. Critical formulation attributes and process parameters are generally identified through an assessment of the extent to which their variation can have impact on the quality of the drug product.

In addition, the applicant can choose to conduct pharmaceutical development studies that can lead to an enhanced knowledge of product performance over a wider range of material attributes, processing options and process parameters. Inclusion of this additional information in this section provides an opportunity to demonstrate a higher degree of understanding of material attributes, manufacturing processes and their controls. This scientific understanding facilitates establishment of an expanded design space. In these situations, opportunities exist to develop more flexible regulatory approaches, for example, to facilitate:

• risk-based regulatory decisions (reviews and inspections);

• manufacturing process improvements, within the approved design space described in the dossier, without further regulatory review;

• reduction of post-approval submissions;

• real-time quality control, leading to a reduction of end-product release testing.

To realise this flexibility, the applicant should demonstrate an enhanced knowledge of product performance over a range of material attributes, manufacturing process options and process parameters. This understanding can be gained by application of, for example, formal experimental designs*, process analytical technology (PAT)*, and/or prior knowledge. Appropriate use of quality risk management principles can be helpful in prioritising the additional pharmaceutical development studies to collect such knowledge.

The design and conduct of pharmaceutical development studies should be consistent with their intended scientific purpose. It should be recognized that the level of


Pharmaceutical Development

knowledge gained, and not the volume of data, provides the basis for science-based submissions and their regulatory evaluation.