Managing clinical trials artwork 2: opportunities to leverage the commercial artwork process

Managing clinical trials artwork 2: opportunities to leverage the commercial artwork process

In the previous article on this topic, I discussed some key considerations in the development of an artwork process to support clinical trials . The clinical trials artwork process needs to deliver accurate and repeatable artwork in a fast changing and dynamic environment.  The need for both rigour and flexibility provide challenging requirements for the process.

Many times, a clinical trials labeling capability is developed in isolation, however most pharmaceutical companies have a complementary process and associated capabilities for managing commercial artwork for marketed products.  There are opportunities to leverage aspects of this commercial process and capabilities in the development of the process and capabilities for clinical trials.

Firstly, considering the design of the clinical trials artwork process, where the company has developed an end-to-end commercial artwork process, this can be used as a base-on for the design of the clinical trials artwork process.  At a high level, the basic steps and outcomes from associated decision gates are similar:

An effective commercial artwork process brings benefits in terms of rigour, data management and version control, however in the detail there are a number of things that would need to be considered in order to adapt it for clinical trials, including:

  • The format of the text provided is specific to clinical trials (rather than the Company Core Datasheet or approved regulatory text) and would be sourced from different teams
  • The clinical trials process may not be covered by the company change control process so approval requirements may differ.  If so, how would the requirements for the change be communicated and could existing briefing documents be used?
  • How are Clinical Trial packaging component numbers managed?
  • Where local or on-line printing of components is undertaken, is there a requirement for a printer proof?  If some printed components are purchased and a printer proof required, how is that process variant incorporated?
  • How is the final component inspected before use?
  • Who are the approvers of the text, the change, the artwork and the components?

The likely outcome is a set of specific Clinical Trials workflows to execute the various clinical trial artwork process scenarios that are similar but not identical to the commercial artwork workflows.

Beyond the process there are also opportunities to exploit the IT capabilities underpinning the Commercial artwork process.

  • Data management, workflow and performance management tools can all be used to support the clinical trials workflows providing higher levels of control, secure communication and effective document control and version management.  However it needs to be remembered that moving into a more controlled and rigorous environment can impact flexibility.
  • Specialist tools for artwork creation, proof-reading and component verification can also be beneficial, providing company standards solutions and automating manual tasks.  Any tools used need to be compatible with the file formats required for any local or on-line printing.
  • Portals provided for communication with external partners allow secure communication to clinical trials partners

In all cases the benefits of the use of IT tools in providing more control need to be considered against the restrictions, maintenance and user change involved in operating in such an environment.

From the above it can be seen that there are benefits in using the Commercial artwork process as a base-on for the Clinical Trials artwork process, but it is essential to understand the differences required and design the processes and supporting tools to ensure these differences are catered for.  There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’, but there are enough similarities to permit leveraging of tools and capabilities.

In the next article on this topic I will discuss some of the pitfalls to avoid in developing your clinical trials artwork process.  In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or comments on this blog, please share.



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