Sponsors and CROs who have traditionally managed their Trial Master Files (TMFs) on paper have seen significant improvements when migrating to an electronic Trial Master File (eTMF) system. However, the exchange of TMF content between sponsors, CROs, and other stakeholders has remained challenging as they often use systems provided by different eTMF vendors.
The TMF Reference Model has partially solved this problem. The model is an emerging standard that has provided a common structure for essential TMF documents. However, the problem of exchanging TMFs between different vendor systems remains due to the lack of a common exchange standard. The eTMF Exchange Mechanism Team, a sub-group of the TMF Reference Model project has published the eTMF Exchange Mechanism Standard (eTMF-EMS) v1.0.2 as a specification for transferring TMF data between different eTMF systems (you can find a Charter for the team).
How does it work?
The published standard will include a specification document, exchange.xml file, and an XSD Schema. The source eTMF system would output the artifacts contained within a predefined folder structure with an accompanying exchange.xml file which provides an inventory of the files being transferred. When a system exports an exchange.xml file and related attributes, there should be a validation of the XML file using the exchange.xsd schema provided as part of the standard. When the receiving system imports the exchange.xml file, it will perform the same checks (validation of XML and verification of checksums). Once all checks have passed, the system will import the artifacts and file them against the relevant TMF RM artifact numbers within the system.
What are some potential use cases?
Final eTMF transfer to sponsor from CRO for archiving
Interim transfer of eTMF content to central eTMF or other trial management system
Migration of eTMF content following a merger or acquisition
Migration of eTMF content following upgrade or change of eTMF system
Long term archiving of eTMF content and associated metadata