Skip to main content

Take our TMF Risk Score Survey today!

A Step in the Right Direction for Clinical Trial Management: Improvements on the GCP E6(R3) ICH Harmonized Guidelines

By: Gillian Gittens, Director of eClinical Strategy and Solutions

TMF Expert Insights

Thursday, July 13, 2023 | 10:43 AM


The draft version of the ICH Harmonized Guideline on Good Clinical Practice (GCP) E6(R3) represents a significant step forward in the field of clinical trial management, specifically for the Trial Master File (TMF). This comprehensive guideline introduces several key improvements that are poised to substantially impact how clinical trials are conducted and documented. These guidelines reinforce the importance of risk-based approaches and improved inspection readiness through increased content requirements, document control, and quality management. The guidelines importantly address the increasing use of technology in clinical trials with electronic records and systems. Let’s dive deeper into each of these improvements.

The 5 Improvements for the ICH Harmonized Guideline on GCP E6(R3):

1. Increased emphasis on a risk-based approach to clinical trial management

The draft guideline emphasizes the use of risk-based approaches in clinical trials. Recognizing the essential complications and challenges involved in conducting trials, sponsors are encouraged to develop strategies to identify, assess, and control risks associated with data integrity, patient safety, and clinical trial conduct. These risk management strategies should be documented within the TMF, ensuring that they are integrated into the overall trial management process.

2. Documentation of quality management and oversight

The draft guideline emphasizes the importance of documenting activities for oversight and quality management within the TMF. This includes monitoring plans, reports, and corrective and preventive action (CAPA) procedures. By documenting these activities, sponsors can ensure that appropriate measures are taken to maintain high-quality standards throughout the trial, ultimately enhancing the reliability and credibility of the trial data.

3. Focus on the use of electronic records and systems

Draft E6 R3 acknowledges there is a growing trend to use electronic solutions in clinical trials. It specifies requirements for the management of electronically stored records and highlights the significance of maintaining the integrity, security, and traceability of electronic records within the TMF. The guideline emphasizes the importance of documenting information systems that are used in the trial, including the validation reports and audit trails. By addressing these unique challenges and considerations associated with electronic systems, the guideline ensures that the TMF reflects the evolving technology landscape of clinical trials. The new definition of “Essential records” means documents and metadata, which is a reflection of the focus on records and systems.

4. Expanded TMF content

The draft guideline has introduced new documents that should be included in the TMF. This contains data on the trial design, protocol changes, rationale for study endpoints, and data handling procedures. In addition, electronic systems documentation, information management, and data integrity are becoming ever more essential. By expanding the scope of the TMF, the guideline aims to capture all the critical information that supports the trial and facilitates effective trial management and evaluation.

5. Improved inspection readiness

Maintaining a well-organized and easily accessible TMF is essential in demonstrating inspection readiness. The draft guideline highlights the importance of effective document management procedures implemented by sponsors. This ensures that the TMF is complete and readily available for inspection by regulatory authorities. By streamlining the accessibility and organization of the TMF, sponsors can facilitate efficient and timely inspections by the regulatory authorities to assess the trial’s compliance with good clinical practice (GCP).

Ultimately, the draft version of the ICH Harmonized Guideline on GCP E6(R3) presents a comprehensive revision of the framework for clinical trial management. By promoting risk-based approaches; emphasizing quality management, oversight, and inspection readiness; addressing electronic systems, and expanding the TMF's content, the guideline elevates the quality, integrity, and safety of clinical trials. These developments represent a significant stride toward ensuring the reliability of trial data and the protection of participant well-being, ultimately benefiting both researchers and patients alike.

To learn more about assessing the trial’s compliance with good clinical practice with a TMF consultant, contact us today.


Back to Blog