Investigational New Drug

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The Food and Drug Administration's Investigational New Drug (IND) program is the means by which a pharmaceutical company obtains permission to ship an experimental drug across state lines (usually to clinical investigators) before a marketing application for the drug has been approved. The FDA reviews the IND application for safety to assure that research subjects will not be subjected to unreasonable risk.

Criteria for application

A clinical study requires an IND if it is intended to support a:

Application contents

The IND application must contain information in three broad areas:

  • Animal Pharmacology and Toxicology Studies - Preclinical data to permit an assessment as to whether the product is reasonably safe for initial testing in humans. Also included are any previous experience with the drug in humans (often foreign use).
  • Chemistry and Manufacturing Information - Information pertaining to the chemical composition, manufacturing methods, stability, and controls used for manufacturing the drug substance and the drug product. The chemical stability and activity of the product must also have been tested. This information is assessed to ensure that the company can adequately produce and supply consistent and active batches of the drug.
  • Clinical Protocols and Investigator Information - Detailed protocols for proposed clinical studies to assess whether the initial-phase trials will expose subjects to unnecessary risks. Also, information on the qualifications of clinical investigators--professionals (generally physicians) who oversee the administration of the experimental compound--to assess whether they are qualified to fulfill their clinical trial duties. Finally, commitments to obtain informed consent from the research subjects, to obtain review of the study by an institutional review board (IRB), and to adhere to the investigational new drug regulations.

An IND must also include an Investigator's Brochure which is a document intended to educate the trial investigators of the significant facts about the trial drug they need to know to conduct their clinical trial with the least hazard to the subjects or patients who will be enrolled.

Application categories

There are two main categories of IND: Investigator-initiated, and Sponsor-initiated. Investigator-initiated INDs are used when a physician wishes to perform a clinical trial to study an unapproved drug treatment, for example a new indication for an existing drug. Sponsor-initiated INDs are filed by pharmaceutical companies studying new drugs or new uses for existing drugs. Both of these types of studies require approval by an insitutional review board (IRB), an independent body constituted of medical, scientific, and nonscientific members, whose responsibility it is to ensure the protection of the rights, safety, and well-being of human subjects involved in a trial. The IRB must review, approve, and provide continuing review of the trials, protocols and amendments, and of the methods and material to be used in obtaining and documenting informed consent of the trial subjects.

Additional regulations

  • Experimental drugs under an IND must be labeled, "Caution: New

Drug--Limited by Federal (or United States) law to investigational use."

Noteworthy examples

The FDA closed its medical marijuana IND program (the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program) in 1991, facing an influx of AIDS patients seeking access to the drug. Seven patients continue to receive cannabis from the government under the program [1].

See also


  • Troetel, W.M.: Achieving a Successful US IND Filing (1) The Regulatory Affairs Journal. 6: 22-28, January 1995.
  • Troetel, W.M.: Achieving a Successful US IND Filing (2) The Regulatory Affairs Journal. 6: 104-108, February 1995.