Examination of the regulatory frameworks applicable to biologic drugs (including stem cells and their progeny) in Europe, the U.S., and Australia: part I--a method of manual documentary analysis

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012 Dec;1(12):898-908. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0037. Epub 2012 Dec 4.


Recent development of a wide range of regulatory standards applicable to production and use of tissues, cells, and other biologics (or biologicals), as advanced therapies, indicates considerable interest in the regulation of these products. The objective of this study was to analyze and compare high-tier documents within the Australian, European, and U.S. biologic drug regulatory environments using qualitative methodology. Cohort 1 of the selected 18 high-tier regulatory documents from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulatory frameworks were subject to a manual documentary analysis. These documents were consistent with the legal requirements for manufacturing and use of biologic drugs in humans and fall into six different categories. Manual analysis included a terminology search. The occurrence, frequency, and interchangeable use of different terms and phrases were recorded in the manual documentary analysis. Despite obvious differences, manual documentary analysis revealed certain consistency in use of terminology across analyzed frameworks. Phrase search frequencies have shown less uniformity than the search of terms. Overall, the EMA framework's documents referred to "medicinal products" and "marketing authorization(s)," the FDA documents discussed "drug(s)" or "biologic(s)," and the TGA documents referred to "biological(s)." Although high-tier documents often use different terminology they share concepts and themes. Documents originating from the same source have more conjunction in their terminology although they belong to different frameworks (i.e., Good Clinical Practice requirements based on the Declaration of Helsinki, 1964). Automated (software-based) documentary analysis should be obtained for the conceptual and relational analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Biological Products / standards
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / standards*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States Food and Drug Administration / standards*


  • Biological Products