Survey of international regulatory bioequivalence recommendations for approval of generic topical dermatological drug products

AAPS J. 2015 Jan;17(1):121-33. doi: 10.1208/s12248-014-9679-3. Epub 2014 Oct 25.


The objective of this article is to discuss the similarities and differences in accepted bioequivalence (BE) approaches for generic topical dermatological drug products between international regulatory authorities and organizations. These drug products are locally applied and not intended for systemic absorption. Therefore, the BE approaches which serve as surrogates to establish safety and efficacy for topical dosage forms tend to differ from the traditional solid oral dosage forms. We focused on 15 different international jurisdictions and organizations that currently participate in the International Generic Drug Regulators Pilot Project. These are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, the European Medicines Association (EMA), Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore (a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, the USA and the World Health Organization (WHO). Upon evaluation, we observed that currently only Canada, the EMA, Japan, and the USA have specific guidance documents for topical drug products. Across all jurisdictions and organizations, the three approaches consistently required are (1) BE studies with clinical endpoints for most topical drug products; (2) in vivo pharmacodynamic studies, in particular the vasoconstrictor assay for topical corticosteroids; and (3) waivers from BE study requirements for topical solutions. Japan, South Africa, the USA, and the WHO are also making strides to accept other BE approaches such as in vivo pharmacokinetic studies for BE assessment, in vivo dermatopharmacokinetic studies and/or BE studies with in vitro endpoints.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Approval*
  • Drugs, Generic / administration & dosage
  • Drugs, Generic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Therapeutic Equivalency


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drugs, Generic