China to Accept eCTD Format for Marketing Authorization Applications for Specific Classes of Drugs

by Grace Wang Oct 14, 2021

The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) recently announced that it would start to accept the electronic common technical document (eCTD) format for drug applications on Dec. 29, 2021.1

NMPA still allows drug applicants to stay with the current method—submitting compact disks containing dossiers.

eCTD Application Scope in China

The NMPA announcement marks China's first move towards promoting eCTD format for drug marketing authorization applications.

In the initial stage, the eCTD format is applicable to applications for Class 1 and Class 5.1 chemical drugs, Class 1 therapeutic biological products and Class 1 prophylactic biological products. 

These products are all innovative medical products, which are supposed to have sufficient research data for supporting marketing authorization. Such data is considered more appropriate for the eCTD format. Therefore, China currently only permits these products to use the new format.

Also, it is common that marketing authorization applications for innovative drugs are submitted to regulators in different countries and regions in the meantime. In such cases, adopting the eCTD format to keep consistency would spare applicants from preparing documents in various formats.

The new eCTD format is NOT mandatory, so the stakeholders can still choose the current registration method.

China eCTD Application Scope: Marketing Authorization Application Dossiers for Medical Products

Class 1 chemical drug:

An innovative chemical drug that has never been granted marketing authorization in or outside China.

Class 5.1 chemical drug:

An innovative or improved chemical drug with overseas marketing authorization and applying for marketing authorization in China.

The improved drug shall have distinct clinical advantages.

Class 1 therapeutic biological product:

An innovative therapeutic biological product that has never been granted marketing authorization in or outside China.

Class 1 prophylactic biological product:

An innovative vaccine that has never been granted marketing authorization in or outside China.


For applicants choosing the eCTD format, applicants are not required to submit the two compact disks, one for data for verification and inspection, the other for database of clinical trials.

The eCTD format is not mandatory and the current registration method of submitting compact disks to CDE (Center for Drug Evaluation) is also acceptable.


eCTD Requirements in China

Grace Wang
ChemLinked Regulatory Analyst
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