In late December the FDA issued a new guidance, entitled “Best Practices for Communication Between IND Sponsors and FDA During Drug Development.” The purpose of the guidance is to “describe best practices and procedures for timely, transparent, and effective communications between investigational new drug application (IND) sponsors and FDA at critical junctures in drug development.” The hope is the guidance facilitates an earlier availability of safe, effective and high-quality drugs to the American public, including biosimilars.

The IND phase of drug development is the time during which human trials of investigational drugs are conducted. From the FDA’s perspective, the IND phase spans the time from the first IND-related submission (including a pre-IND or Biosimilar Initial Advisory (BIA) meeting request or an original IND) to the submission of a marketing application. The FDA engages in thousands of communication with drug sponsors during the IND phase. As such, the FDA’s guidance encourages efficient, consistent, clear and concise communications.

The new guidance particularly lays out and describes the following: the FDA’s philosophy regarding timely communications with IND sponsors as a core activity; the scope of appropriate interactions between review teams and IND sponsors; the types of advice that are appropriate for IND sponsors to seek from FDA; the expectations for the timing of FDA responses to IND sponsor inquiries; the best practices and communication methods to facilitate interactions with the FDA; and the expectations for appropriate methods of communication with the FDA.

At bottom, the FDA engages in thousands of communications with IND sponsors each year. Given the sheer volume of communications the FDA must review and respond to, facilitating a consistent, complete and concise communication protocol will assist the FDA in reviewing and providing timely and cogent feedback to the sponsors where appropriate. This, in turn, should result in greater efficiency during the drug development process to the benefit of the American public.