Vol 23: Rules for Writing the Common Technical Document Quality Module 3—Practical Insights and Recommendations for Quick Approval

March 06, 2023The Pathfinder 30 Min Read

Rules for Writing the Common Technical Document Quality Module 3—Practical Insights and Recommendations for Quick Approval


The article offers practical insights and recommendations for sponsors to achieve a successful outcome with their CTD application, specifically in the Quality Module 3. It emphasizes the importance of clarity, accuracy, and documentation to avoid negative impacts on the review outcome. The CTD is a widely accepted and recognized unified dossier format for drug applications, and sponsors can customize their submissions while following ICH guidance documents and national regulatory requirements.




The Common Technical Document (CTD) is a critical unified dossier created by the International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH). This format is widely accepted and recognized worldwide, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other international regulatory authorities favoring it as a standard drug application form for both Investigational (IND) and New Drug Marketing Applications (NDA/BLAs). When correctly constructed, a CTD application has a good chance of being approved quickly and efficiently.

Submitting technical information in the Quality Module 3 of the CTD is an intricate process, but one that can be achieved. Guidance documents provide clear instructions on organizing and submitting data for review by the FDA. Yet, sponsors can customize their submissions according to what they feel is appropriate. To ensure swift approval of the Quality section of your drug application, you must take the time to craft a practical Module 3 CTD. For those seeking additional support, plenty of insights and tips are available to help maximize your chances of success.

The CTD has revolutionized drug applications over the past 15-20 years, providing a unified dossier format for submissions. ICH documents describe how to construct each section of the CTD, with updates issued in 2001 and later years. This standardized submission format is accepted within ICH regions such as the United States, though it does not replace the US Code of Federal Regulations or FDA guidance documents. To meet all regulatory requirements, sponsors must pay close attention to any unique components required by each national body; preparation should be tailored accordingly to ensure success.

Gathering a team of experts with technical know-how and the ability to work well together is essential when preparing Quality Modules. It can be challenging to achieve, but by taking this step, sponsors can drastically improve their chances of success in drug development. When such an interdisciplinary and cooperative team is formed, all members should ensure that they have a good understanding of the expectations and requirements for each of the Modules so that an efficient and effective submission can be achieved.

Strong leadership is key to the success of the team. The team must clearly understand their goals, including marketing objectives, strategies to address any weaknesses in the data package, and expected short-term and long-term outcomes for the program. By focusing on these central questions, the team can ensure that their final documents meet expectations and guide sponsors toward successful drug development.

Preparing Module 2 can be arduous and should ideally only be done after completing other modules. It is essential to assemble a cross-disciplinary, interdepartmental team with the proper technical knowledge and the ability to collaborate to increase the odds of success. Additionally, leadership within this team is critical to ensure that all parties come together with a shared vision and understanding of their marketing objectives, data package weaknesses, strategies for addressing those weaknesses, and long-term outcomes for the program. By keeping these goals in focus, Module 2 documents can be created that meet regulatory expectations and achieve desired results.

CTD Module 2 fulfills a role similar to that of the application summary in a traditional New Drug Application (NDA). Additionally, streamlining documentation efforts and creating a coherent message before pre-NDA meetings are vital steps to create an efficient Module 2. By being mindful of these guidelines, sponsors can maximize their chances of success when preparing Module 2.




Module 2.3, the Quality Overall Summary, is essential to preparing for a marketing application. This summary should include critical parameters of the product, impurity data from synthesis, manufacture or degradation of the active ingredient, and acceptance criteria for individual and total impurities. Information in Module 2.3 can be pulled from Module 3, such as tables, figures, and flow diagrams. Other information, such as an overview description of the manufacturing process and any major changes, must be presented as highlights to ensure that all reviewers understand the product. By laying out this information in Module 2.3, sponsors can better prepare for a successful marketing application.

This Module also includes explanations and justifications, for example, providing justification in cases where guidance was not followed. Much of the information requested in the quality summary, including tables, figures, and flow diagrams, can be imported directly from Module 3. Other information, such as a nondetailed overview description of the manufacturing process and summary of significant manufacturing changes that have been made throughout development, need to be presented as highlights rather than as detailed discussions so that all reviewers, not just those in CMC, are able to gain a basic understanding of the product.

The Quality Overall Summary in Module 2.3 should also address key integrated issues across the various programs and disciplines. This could include the qualification of impurities through toxicology studies, assessing human risk through clinical trial safety evaluations, or requiring a particular reprocessing step due to potential contamination or high cost. By addressing these key issues in Module 2.3, sponsors can better prepare for a successful marketing application.

The Quality Overall Summary is an important part of preparing for a marketing application.

This summary should include key parameters of the drug substance and completed product, consistency (batch to batch), process control, comparison among different products throughout development, and establishing the connection between clinical drug supplies and the proposed to-be-marketed product. Tabular presentations are a preferred way to compare and contrast data over batches, as well as changes made to improve efficacy or toxicity profile or to scale up production.

The quality summary should not exceed 40 pages of text without tables and figures unless dealing with biotech products or complex processes, where it should not exceed 80 pages of text. By laying out this information in Module 2.3 before the marketing application, sponsors can better prepare for success.




Module 3 is an essential component of the drug development process. It contains crucial reports that demonstrate a drug’s identity, quality, strength, purity, and other characteristics are well known and understood, allowing for reproducibility in the future. This is crucial when submitting a new drug to FDA reviewers for marketing approval. Much of this information can be referenced with older drugs from the active ingredient manufacturer’s Drug Master File instead of being included in Module 3.

Additionally, Section 3.2R contains “Regional Information” about additional drug substance and product requirements set by different regulatory authorities worldwide. Companies must stay apprised of evolving requirements to market their product across international markets successfully.

Module 3, and the development work that provides the data for the Module, is unique in that it should tell a story rather than simply being a collection of data. For most drugs, the manufacturing development program will evolve, often such that substantial differences exist between a drug substance or product early in development versus that proposed for marketing. The challenge inherent in describing manufacturing development changes is to convince FDA reviewers that it is appropriate to consider and to integrate nonclinical and clinical material data obtained at various points during development, having studied drugs that might have been considerably different at these points.

Module 3 and its associated development work provide the data necessary to support a successful marketing application. This data must be able to tell a story that reflects the manufacturing development changes of the drug substance or product from the early stages of development to the proposed commercialized product. To approve the application, FDA reviewers must be convinced that data from early-stage drug materials can be compared in meaningful ways with later-stage materials, despite differences in manufacturing, scale, and formulation. Sponsors must provide detailed evidence in Module 3 highlighting these fundamental changes to ensure regulatory approval.

When compiling Module 3, it is essential to consider the various sources from which CMC data can be generated. Due to time constraints and cost-savings, drug development often requires a mix of in-house and outside contributions. High GMP standards must be maintained throughout the process, with careful documentation of variations in drug substance or product formulation, potency, and process schemes. The complexity that comes with such changes means it is essential to plan for Module 3 proactively from the start of the project to ensure all documentation and evidence of control are up to date.

Reconstructing primary source information after the fact can be an uphill battle, particularly if personnel has changed or links are missing. Sponsors must assess all these factors during drug development to achieve regulatory approval. It is challenging to go back in time to some primary source and try to reconstruct after the fact, particularly if the people responsible are no longer available or if other links are missing.

This process typically involves contributions from both in-house and outside parties, requiring rigorous documentation for analytical programs. Additionally, development reports must tell a coherent story throughout the product’s life cycle, capturing ongoing chemistry and manufacturing changes and any improvements in purity or release specifications. If not done correctly, this could result in an extended review cycle or even denial of approval. For this reason, sponsors must take great care in assembling all necessary evidence for Module 3 to ensure FDA acceptance.




Constructing Module 3 according to the Common Technical Document (CTD) format does not necessarily have to be complicated. Guidances provide much assistance; however, there can be significant advantages to considering the “art” of the presentation and the science. It requires an artful display of both science and facts.

For a successful and efficient drug approval process, it is essential to submit a CTD application with clarity and accuracy. This gives the best chance for rapid approval and ensures that any additional data requirements imposed during the review are not considered preapproval obligations.

Suppose reviewers cannot follow the trail of evidence presented in the application. In that case, they may become uncomfortable and impose new preapproval data obligations that can delay the review process considerably. This is why it’s critical to present an application that meets FDA standards and expectations as closely as possible.

Upcoming Event

Oct 22


October 22-25, 2023 

Orlando, FL, USA

Orange County Convention Center

The Pathfinder

The latest in biotech for your ears

The VirtualPharm Podcast is an audio series that covers topics related to compliance and regulatory affairs in the Lifesciences industry. Each episode, hosted by an expert in the topic with decades of experience, offers listeners detailed insight into the changing regulatory environment.

Subscribe to the Pathfinder

    Lets discuss your product