Currently FDA official submissions must be in XML or PDF format, with the preference being the submission of at least the XML format. The rationale for these is the need to have a document that will be readable and accessible in perpetuity. This is definitely an important consideration. However, these formats contain limitations when it comes to the review, oversight and approval process as clinical reviewers are more effective “seeing” a case as a set of forms the way the Investigator filled out those forms, while analysis staff are more effective with the XML raw information. How do you handle ancillary data, such as images and graphical information that were part of the process which cannot be imbedded in XML?
Below we will present a case for allowing HTML archives to be added as a part of or one of the allowable formats for FDA submission, fundamentally to support clinical case review. The raw XML would continue to be favored format for data analysis.
HTML, Hyper Text Markup Language, is the foundation of all computer languages used to create web-based interfaces. HTML is a specialized form of XML that when combined with images and style sheets (CSS) make a web page appear as it does. The Internet has been growing exponentially since its inception transforming business and everyday life; the Internet is here to stay and so is HTML. “Billions and billions” of HTML web pages exist in the world today. HTML can be compared to the alphabet. Like the alphabet, it provides us with basic element in which we can combine in order to communicate via web pages. HTML does for computer language what the alphabet does for our language. It is safe to say HTML will stand the test of time.
One might assume that HTML requires a web server to operate, but in fact, an HTML page is just a document that resides on a computer hard drive on a server, and can also be saved locally. All browsers support “Save As” and can save a web page for later viewing when the computer is disconnected from the Internet. All that’s needed is any brand of web-browser. As such, these HTML/XML pages are safe, secure, and as perpetual as any computer file on the hard drive.
Now that we have established that HTML is a viable solution in perpetuity, let’s examine the differences between XML, PDF and HTML archives. The main differences are listed in the table below.
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In conclusion, while the XML archive is a natural non-proprietary requirement for data submission because it does allow quick processing of the data in order to analyze the safety and efficacy of a drug, providing HTML data in addition is superior to PDF files in that it facilitates the case review within the same context in which the data was originally collected by Investigators. HTML will increase FDA reviewer’s confidence in the quality of the data and its outcomes.
Prelude Dynamics has initiated conversations with FDA CVM to discuss allowing HTML archives to be submitted. Among the discussion is also the possibility that Sponsors could chose to allow CVM to have access to the server in read-only mode where they could interact with the study data and even run reports, statistics and graphs within the system before final submission occurs in order to guide sponsors on any additional requirements or concerns they might have in order to help expedite the final review process, reduce the need for clarifications, and be quicker to market.