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FDA vs EMA in Terms of GCP Inspections

The national and global regulations for conducting clinical trials involving human participants are known as Good Clinical Practice (ICH-GCP). They include not only quality criteria, but also regulatory guidelines to ensure that all newly created pharmaceuticals and medical devices have been clinically shown to benefit the health of the public.  The FDA and the EMA are two of the most important regulatory authorities involved in ensuring patient safety and data integrity, and here is some information about both.


The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. All investigative product and approved products  (drugs and devices) sold in the United States are reviewed, approved, and regulated by the FDA both domestically and internationally. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), on the other hand, controls the drug development process for all European Union member countries.

How do the FDA and EMA work differently?

Inspection Focus:

FDA Investigators will spend some time looking at generic processes, but their main focus will be on research activities. The overall approach will be to follow the Bioresearch Monitoring Program guidelines and check conformity on each study. While the EMA will analyze study details in their trial master file (TMF) review, their Subject Matter Expert (SME) interview will focus mostly on general processes.

Trial Master Files (TMF):

There is no particular FDA mandate for organizations to develop a trial master file in the United States, but if the regulatory body wants ICH GCP to be followed, then a trial master file must be created and maintained.

Inspectors from the EMA, on the other hand, will conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the TMF and, with rare exceptions, will prepare to browse without assistance. TMF review will normally take up major time during the inspection. Moreover, these organizations anticipate that the majority of study documents will be accessible directly within the TMF and will be recorded in a timely manner. If a TMF is ready for an EMA inspection, it is probably ready for any other significant agency as well.

Document Review:

According to the EMA’s inaugural documents, the agency’s main goal was to recognize the importance of improving patient-reported health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The EMA’s patient-reported outcomes (PRO) advice focuses on numerous domains for generalized HRQOL assessment, whereas the FDA’s focus is on symptom-specific measurements. This distinction can be seen in the pazopanib approval documentation. While the EMA included HRQOL data from pazopanib phase III studies in its assessment, the FDA statement makes no mention of this objective.


The two most influential regulatory agencies, USFDA and EMA, assure us that we can trust the industry as their respective accomplishments become more transparent in improving current processes and safeguarding patients and the clinical industry’s future.



CTA. (2019, January 11). Observations from GCP sponsor inspections. Clinical trials arena. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.clinicaltrialsarena.com/comment/how-to-prepare-for-gcp-sponsor-inspections.

EMA. (2021, August 10). European Medicines Agency. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.ema.europa.eu/en.

NCBI. (n.d.). FDA in PMC. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/funder/fda/#:~:text=FDA%20is%20responsible%20for%20protecting,manufacturing%2C%20marketing%2C%20and%20distribution%20of.

NIRH. (n.d.). Trial Master File. Trial master file. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.ct-toolkit.ac.uk/routemap/trial-master-file/.

Shalby, M. (2018, August 3). Good clinical practice: FDA vs. Ema. LinkedIn. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/good-clinical-practice-fda-vs-ema-michaela-shalby/.