Malaysia's pharmaceutical market had demonstrated significant growth in recent years, reaching an impressive valuation of $2.9 billion in 2020. This growth had been sustained with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) exceeding 9% from 2013 to 2020, indicating a resilient and thriving sector.
According to Malaysia's Investment Development Authority (MIDA), the future outlook for the pharmaceutical industry remained optimistic. As of June 2021, projections had suggested that the industry's aggregate annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) witnessed a steady upward trajectory over the next 12 to 18 months. This positive trend could largely be attributed to two key factors driving demand within the market – the increasing utilisation of pharmaceutical products and the urgent need for COVID-19-related treatments and vaccines.
These projections underscore the critical role that the pharmaceutical sector plays in Malaysia's healthcare system. It serves as a vital component in providing essential solutions during medical crises, showcasing its significance and potential for further advancements in the coming years.
Pharmaceutical Regulations and Registration process in Malaysia:
The Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is the regulatory authority overseeing the pharmaceutical industry in Malaysia and operates under the Malaysian Ministry of Health. Its key role is to uphold the safety, effectiveness, and quality of medical devices and pharmaceutical products within the country.
In order to register their products and comply with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) in Malaysia, pharmaceutical companies, both local and international, must appoint a qualified legal representative or establish a registered business entity within the country. This legal representation is crucial for seamless communication with the NPRA, as well as for preparing and submitting thorough registration dossiers, adhering to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines, and complying with post-marketing activities such as pharmacovigilance and variations.
In Malaysia, pharmaceutical products are divided into three categories based on their level of risk:
1. Over-The-Counter (OTC) Drugs: These are medications that can be bought without a prescription. Examples include common pain relievers like paracetamol and antacids.
2. Prescription Drugs: Medications that necessitate a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional fall into this category. Examples include antibiotics and treatments for chronic diseases.
3. Traditional Medicines: This category encompasses herbal and traditional remedies, which are sometimes regulated separately due to their distinct nature.
In Malaysia, the NPRA enforces strict labelling rules for pharmaceuticals. Labels must be in Bahasa Malaysia and include crucial details like product name, active ingredients, dosage, precautions, storage, and batch number. Relevant warning symbols should also be displayed.
Clinical Trial Requirements:
To ensure compliance with regulations, it is important to follow a series of steps when conducting clinical trials in Malaysia:
1. Obtain ethical approval from an accredited ethics committee.
2. Conduct trials in accordance with Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines.
3. Obtain investigational product approval from NPRA or MDA.
4. Engage qualified medical professionals as investigators.
5. Secure informed consent from participants.
6. Promptly report any adverse events to the relevant authorities.
7. Submit a comprehensive Clinical Trial Application (CTA).
8. Ensure trial sites meet the necessary standards.
9. Obtain import and export approvals for investigational products.
10. Implement monitoring and quality assurance processes.
11. Maintain complete and accurate trial records.
12. Report trial results to NPRA or MDA.
For pharmaceutical products to be approved for the Malaysian market, they must undergo a series of stringent tests to ensure their quality, safety, and effectiveness. These tests encompass pharmacopoeia testing, stability testing, and bioequivalence studies for generic drugs.
Applicability of Foreign Testing:
Malaysia recognizes reputable foreign testing data from countries adhering to stringent regulatory standards like the United States, European Union, and Australia. Nevertheless, the NPRA can request further testing or data when deemed necessary to ensure safety and efficacy in pharmaceutical products.
In order to register a product in Malaysia, companies must first establish a local presence by either setting up a registered business entity or appointing a local representative.
- Establish a local presence through a registered business entity or local representative.
- Compile a comprehensive registration dossier with required data.
- Submit the dossier to the NPRA for evaluation.
- NPRA evaluates safety, efficacy, and quality.
- Approval granted for registration if evaluation is successful.
- Obtain import license for market entry.
- Comply with GDP guidelines for distribution.
- Implement pharmacovigilance systems and submit variations as needed.
- Renew product registration when required.
- Prepare for GMP inspections by the NPRA.
- Maintain compliance with Malaysian regulations and inform NPRA of any changes.
Impact of EU/US Approval on Registration:
Approvals from the EU or US may not directly streamline the registration process in Malaysia, but they can expedite certain aspects. For instance, mutual recognition of data for a product with EU or US approval can alleviate the need for duplicative testing, thus reducing the burden.
Import and Distribution Requirements:
When importing and distributing pharmaceutical products in Malaysia, companies must secure an import license and adhere to Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guidelines. Local storage facilities are typically required for product storage before distribution.
List of Documents Required in Each Module:
The registration dossier generally includes the following modules:
Module 1: Administrative Information
Module 2: Quality Overall Summary (QOS)
Module 3: Quality
Module 4: Nonclinical Study Reports
Module 5: Clinical Study Reports
Module 6: Product Information (Labeling and Packaging)
Module 7: Post-Marketing Surveillance Plan
Module 8: Pharmacovigilance Plan
GMP Inspection Requirements:
Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry are required to follow the guidelines set by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations. These regulations provide a framework for maintaining quality, safety, and consistency in the production process. To ensure compliance, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has the authority to conduct inspections. These inspections aim to verify that manufacturers are adhering to the GMP guidelines, thereby promoting the overall integrity and reliability of pharmaceutical products.
Timeline and Associated Fees:
The timeline for product registration may differ due to various factors. These factors include the intricacy of the product and the accessibility of required data. When it comes to the registration process, there is a fixed fee of RM 1,000.00.
a. Pharmacovigilance: Establishing pharmacovigilance systems is mandatory for companies to monitor and report any adverse drug reactions.
b. Variations: Any changes to the registered product, such as formulation modifications, must be submitted as variations to the NPRA.
c. Renewal: Pharmaceutical product registrations have a limited validity period and require periodic renewal.
d. Audits: Post-marketing audits may be conducted by the NPRA to ensure continuous compliance with regulations.
Malaysia's pharmaceutical industry is overseen by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), dedicated to upholding stringent quality standards and ensuring public safety in the consumption of pharmaceutical products. The regulatory landscape encompasses critical elements such as the registration process, clinical trial prerequisites, and post-marketing activities. By adhering to these comprehensive guidelines, the industry can foster a culture of trust, delivering high-quality medications for the well-being of the Malaysian population.
National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) - Ministry of Health Malaysia. (n.d.). http://npra.moh.gov.my
Drug Control Authority (DCA) - Ministry of Health Malaysia. (n.d.). http://npra.moh.gov.my/index.php/en/main-activities/drug-control-authority-dca
Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA). (n.d.). https://www.mida.gov.my/home/
Guideline for Good Clinical Practice (Fourth Schedule) - Health Sciences Authority. (n.d.). https://www.hsa.gov.sg/
Guidelines on Registration of Pharmaceutical Products with the Drug Control Authority (DCA) - NPRA. (n.d.). http://npra.moh.gov.my/images/Guidelines/Formulari/DRUG/GUIDELINE_29052019.pdf
Good Distribution Practice (GDP) for Medical Devices - Medical Device Authority. (n.d.). https://portal.mda.gov.my/medical-device-acts-2012/guidelines-2/good-distribution-practice-gdp-for-medical-devices/