International Council on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH)

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The International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) brings together the medicines regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical industry around the world. ICH aims to achieve greater harmonisation worldwide for the development and approval of safe, effective, and high quality medicines in the most resource-efficient manner. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) supports the European Commission's membership in ICH.

The Council was officially established on 23 October 2015, after 25 years as the International Conference on Harmonisation. The reformed ICH is intended to transform ICH into a truly global initiative supported by a robust and transparent governance structure.

ICH achieves harmonisation through:

  • developing guidelines and technical requirements for medicine development and approval via a process of scientific consensus with regulatory and industry experts working side-by-side;
  • the commitment of all parties to implement the ICH guidelines and technical requirements.

These harmonised guidelines and requirements include:

The objectives and activities of ICH are similar to those of the International Cooperation for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Veterinary Medicinal Use (VICH).

For a list of ICH members and observers, see ICH: Membership.

EMA role

EMA plays a key role in the development and implementation of ICH guidelines

The ICH Assembly and Management Committee include an EMA representative and the chair of EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). 

EMA acts as technical coordinator for ICH activities and plays a key role in EU contributions to ICH topics are developed and communicated in a timely manner. European experts nominated by the CHMP participate in the expert working groups that draft the guidelines, and can act as chair or rapporteur responsible for leading the group’s work.

Once an ICH guideline has been finalised, the CHMP is responsible for implementing it as a European guideline. All harmonised guidelines are published on the EMA website on Scientific guidelines: ICH guidelines.

The Agency also sits on the management board for the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA).

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