Notice: Product Monograph Implementation Plans

January 13, 2020
Our Reference No: 19-123473-315

Health Canada continues to implement commitments made to improve the accessibility and quality of drug product information for Canadians. The Department is making drug product information more relevant and easier to understand so that Canadians can make informed decisions about their medications and health professionals can access critical safety information more quickly.

As part of this work, Health Canada is pleased to provide an update on the following three initiatives related to the Canadian product monograph:

These initiatives will help make drug product information more consistent, easier to read, easier to find and will encourage the adoption of digital health technology.

2016 Guidance Document: Product Monograph

In December 2016, Health Canada announced updates to Part I: Health Professional Information, and Part II: Scientific Information of the Guidance Document: Product Monograph and the associated templates. Since June 9, 2017, these changes have been in effect for biologics, radiopharmaceuticals and prescription pharmaceutical products filed as New Drug Submissions (NDS) and Abbreviated New Drug Submissions (ANDS) where the Canadian Reference Product is in the 2016 format.

Health Canada is now taking steps towards full adoption of this Guidance. In order to provide industry with sufficient time to transition to the requirements under the 2016 Guidance, there will be approximately a 6 month period before full implementation takes effect.

Beginning June 1, 2020, sponsors are expected to file the following submission types under the 2016 Guidance and format for biologics, radiopharmaceuticals and prescription pharmaceutical products:

Sponsors are encouraged to discuss, with Health Canada, in advance, any anticipated complex or large volume product monograph filings with the appropriate review area to manage target review timelines.

Product Monographs in the XML format

In April 2019, Health Canada announced its intent to transition product monograph templates to a structured format based on XML format, Health Level 7 (HL7)'s Structured Product Label (SPL) standard and controlled vocabularies.

From May 15, 2019 to June 29, 2019, the following XML Product Monograph guidances were posted on the Health Canada website for public consultation:

Consultation feedback reflected support for adopting a structured format, identified controlled vocabularies as a critical factor for implementation, and the importance of Health Canada to align with other international regulators and international standards.

From April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, Health Canada will accept XML product monographs on a "by request" basis. Sponsors can submit a request to file XML product monographs, in the 2016 format, under the following submission types:

This transition period has been established so that both Health Canada and industry systems are in place for the full launch scheduled for Fall 2020. Health Canada plans to make the XML format a mandatory requirement by Spring 2021.

More information will be provided in subsequent communications.

Controlled Vocabularies in product monographs

A controlled vocabulary establishes a list of standardized terms used for indexing and retrieval of information and ensures subjects are described using the same preferred terms across all products. As a result, information is consistent, easier to index and easier to find during a search.

In an effort to improve the consistency and searchability of product monograph content, Health Canada will implement a controlled vocabulary framework for product monographs.

Beginning June 1, 2020, sponsors will be expected to use terminology from Health Canada approved controlled vocabularies when filing product monographs in the 2016 format. Controlled vocabularies are always required when filing product monographs in the XML format.

The list of vocabularies includes the following:

In response to stakeholder feedback, Health Canada will align its controlled vocabulary framework with international standards where relevant, particularly the standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the Identification of Medicinal Product (IDMP).

More information on the controlled vocabularies will be provided in subsequent communications.

Questions related to the Guidance Document: Product Monograph should be directed to:

Bureau of Policy, Science and International Programs
Therapeutic Products Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
1600 Scott Street
Holland Cross, Tower B
2nd Floor, Address Locator 3102C5
Ottawa, Ontario
K1Y 4N7
Telephone: 613-948-4623
Facsimile: 613-941-1812

Questions related to the XML Product Monograph and controlled vocabularies should be directed to:

Business Informatics Division
Resource Management and Operations Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada

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