Revised: 25 March 2013

OTC medicines: guidelines and processes update 2013

On 15 April 2013, Medsafe and the TGA will introduced new administrative processes for the evaluation of new and changed over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. These reforms introduce more predictability for companies wishing to supply OTC medicines in Australia and New Zealand.  This is because:

Taken as a whole, these measures will enable streamlining of the internal administrative processes of Medsafe and the TGA, and result in shorter and more predictable times to market for OTC medicines.  These measures will be introduced without compromising the level of scrutiny applied to ensure OTC medicines meet the standards expected by consumers.

The regulatory guidelines have been updated by each regulator in Australia and New Zealand to reflect these changes.

These reforms are being implemented following extensive consultation with the Australian and New Zealand OTC medicine industry.

How are the regulators assisting industry to effectively manage these changes?

Medsafe and the TGA have released separate guidance documentation prior to commencing new administrative processes to enable applicants to understand what they need to do. 

A twelve month implementation stage has been established to enable applicants to become used to the new processes, and to provide feedback on their effectiveness.

The new OTC process relates to administrative processes employed by Medsafe and the TGA to assess new and changed medicine applications.  There are no changes to the standards applied or the assessment of the risks and benefits associated with new and changed OTC medicines.

When will sponsors be required to submit applications that comply with Part 2A: Over-the-counter medicines: Pre-market application and evaluation process of the Guidelines for the Regulation of Therapeutic Products in New Zealand (GRTPNZ) for OTC medicines?

Application dossier formats and administrative processes are common in both Australia and New Zealand from 15 April 2013.  Sponsors will need to submit applications that comply with the new processes outlined in Part 2A: Over-the-counter medicines: Pre-market application and evaluation process of the GRTPNZ from that date. 

There will be a transitional period of 12 months to allow applicants to become familiar with the new process and expected formats. 

Tell me more about the implementation stage

Both Medsafe and the TGA will implement target timelines for the administrative steps with further review and refinement to be undertaken during the 12 month transitional period.  Both regulators will monitor and report performance against target timelines to introduce predictability and transparency for applicants.  

A review of the administrative processes will be undertaken after 18 months to ensure the reforms are delivering the predictability anticipated.  The outcome of this review and any further refinement required will be reported to stakeholders.

Harmonisation of data requirements for OTC medicine applications and the categorisation of changes to existing medicines will continue during the lead up to ANZTPA to enable a fully harmonised and integrated regulatory framework to commence in July 2016.

What are the main differences between the old process and the new process?

New medicine applications will need to be submitted in one of five application categories.  Each application category relates to different risk-appropriate evaluation processes.

Target timelines will apply to each of the work streams so applicants can predict completion of assessment. The administrative processes applied to an application will be standardised so that applicants will know what will happen to their applications.

One of the application categories (N2) will utilise a new approach to using product specific data as a route to approval.  This will be trialled by the TGA.  OTC medicine monographs (OMMs) will be available to sponsors of OTC medicines and confined to OTC medicines containing well-characterised active ingredients. The monographs will specify requirements in relation to:

The TGA will consider developing an OTC medicine monograph for OTC medicines for which:

Priority for development of monographs will be given to products where the expected frequency of applications is sufficient to justify the resources involved in developing the monograph.

All relevant requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 will continue to apply to OTC medicines, including those medicines that are covered by an OTC medicine monograph.

During the trial period further monographs will be developed to expand the number of eligible products.  Medsafe will introduce monographs after the trial period if initial feedback is positive.  

So how do I submit an application from 15 April 2013?

For the  TGA:

Use the same eBS submission portal as used before.

Use the guidance documents on the TGA website to:

The existing fee structure will continue until further notice.

For Medsafe :

Use the application forms on the Medsafe website which will be updated to include the new application categories.

Use the guidance documents on the Medsafe website to:

The existing fee structure will continue until further notice.

Will sponsors still be able to supply OTC products that comply with the old guidelines?

Yes, OTC products that comply with the old guidelines and currently have consent to distribute will still be able to be marketed.

Sponsors may also make changes to these products via the CMN process. If a new consent to distribute a new medicine is required, then the current process outlined in the Part 2A: Over-the-counter medicines: Pre-market application and evaluation process of the GRTPNZ must be applied.

Will the fee structure change as a result of these reforms?

For the  TGA:

The existing fee structure will continue until further notice.

It is envisaged that a new fee structure will be developed to allow for an application fee for each of the application categories, plus an evaluation fee.  The evaluation fee will relate to the specific application category, rather than the current structure which involves a page count for more complex applications. 

For Medsafe

Applicants should use the existing fee schedule until further notice.