RIM for medtech vs. RIM for pharma

Wendy Levine
March 10, 2023
RIM for medtech vs. RIM for pharma

Regulatory affairs professionals at large medical device companies must manage heavy submission workloads, registrations for products currently on the market, and ever-changing regulatory requirements. Regulatory information management (RIM) systems have been available for some time, but only in the pharmaceutical industry. This means that many regulatory professionals in the medical device industry continue to rely on paper documents, spreadsheets, and other outdated tools and methods to manage their work.  

Medtech RA teams who implement RIM systems built for the pharma industry do not have the functionality they need to manage the complex workflows associated with medical device submissions and registration maintenance. In fact, at Rimsys we have worked with a number of medical device manufacturers who moved away from their RIM pharma system without successfully implementing it.

What is RIM for the pharmaceutical industry?

RIM systems designed for the pharmaceutical industry (Pharma RIM) provide a centralized system for managing the drug approval process. Pharma RIM systems differ in their scope, but often handle processes from pre-registration through post-registration including the creation and management of dossiers for investigational New Drug (IND) and Clinical Trial Application (CTA) submissions.

Pharma RIM systems also provide content/document management capabilities, often tied to Master Data Management (MDM) functionality which provides for the storage, retrieval, and integration of the large amounts of data tracked by pharmaceutical companies. In addition, Pharma RIM systems can assist with electronic submissions of regulatory dossiers.

Why Pharma RIM doesn’t work for medical device manufacturers

On the surface, regulatory solutions for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries appear similar. Both industries are highly regulated, require controlled workflow and document management, and have complex market entrance requirements.

However, the regulatory requirements governing the development and marketing of a drug are very different from that of a medical device in the following areas:

Harmonization of regulatory requirements

Global harmonization of pharmaceutical guidelines, through the International Conference for Harmonisation (ICH), is much more complete than in the medical device industry. Regulatory professionals working in the medical device industry must manage market-specific device classification rules, submission regulations, reporting requirements, and more.  

The harmonized requirements in the pharmaceutical industry mean that, while submissions need to be made to each market, they are largely the same.

Change management requirements

Medical devices typically have multiple versions, iterations, and packaging options that inherently make market submissions and registrations more difficult to manage than in the case of pharmaceuticals. In addition, a medical device may undergo changes as the result of a supplier change, software update, or a corrective action made to the manufacturing process or product (among other possible changes). In most markets, any change that has the potential to affect the safety or efficacy of a device must be reported. However, the reporting requirements, including timing and submission formats, vary with each market. RA professionals must understand and track every requirement in every market.

Updates to pharmaceutical products, such as labeling changes, are less common and the notification process is more streamlined because of globally harmonized processes.

Regulatory pathways and options

For many medical devices, the regulatory pathway is not always clear – leaving RA teams to determine the path most likely to succeed and, in some cases, most advantageous to obtaining clearance in additional markets. For example, a new device in the United States might achieve faster approval through the 510(k) process, but the manufacturer must reference a predicate device already on the market. Whether the FDA accepts the identified device as a predicate and whether a PMA process would provide the company a greater competitive advantage, are strategic questions for the RA team to answer.  

Devices are classified based on different criteria in different countries, making it necessary to analyze the device classification separately for each market as well. If the device is software or a combination device, the approval process may differ from the typical device approval pathway in some countries, but not others. In some cases, multiple options are available, such as participation in the MDSAP program.

Product complexity

From a regulatory data standpoint, medical devices are significantly more complex than drug products. In a pharma RIM system, a new drug is set up in the same manner as existing drugs. For a medical device, there are many more data points that need to be tracked and standards that need to be identified based on such things as whether the device is sold sterile, contains electronic equipment, or includes software.  

A medtech RIM system allows each device to be configured and tracked appropriately for each market.

What are medtech RIM systems?

Holistic RIM systems for medical device manufacturers enable users to create a single source of truth for all data associated with regulatory submissions and registration management. RIM systems are used by regulatory teams to digitize data and automate key processes across the organization.

Medtech RIM system functions are designed to support a range of regulatory activities across a product’s lifecycle. In addition to centralizing core regulatory data and managing regulatory registrations and certificates, RIM systems can also support:

  • Submission planning, authoring, and assembly
  • Market entrance requirements and pre-built submission templates
  • Collaborative content authoring and project management
  • UDI management
  • Standards management
  • Essential principles/GSPR management, including bulk updating

RIM systems are product-centric, structuring data around individual regulated products and their requirements, market by market. This means that RIM systems can track product-specific data and link standards with individual products to easily identify those affected by standards updates.

RIM for regulatory projects and processes

Digitization and automation of regulatory data are more critical as global regulations continue to change and become more complex. Getting a medical device to market is a difficult process, but RIM software cuts the time and costs associated with product registrations while providing tools essential for ensuring ongoing compliance. Choosing a RIM system designed specifically for the medtech industry will provide your RA team with the tools they need. To get your regulatory ducks in a row, only a RIM system will do!

To learn more about the Rimsys RIM system, talk to one of our experts today.

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