Among 10 ASEAN countries, Thailand has registered the highest number of clinical trials in the region. Moreover, an increasing number of BA/BE studies are being performed. Thailand, being such a preferred destination to conduct clinical trials, an interest in understanding the regulatory process involved is quite expected.

Continued from Thailand’s Clinical Trial Regulatory Scenario – Simplified (1/2)

We receive queries, often from pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations, asking about the approvals needed, processes involved, and time is taken to obtain such approvals.


2.2 Timelines for EC approval
3 Import Permit from FDA
3.1 Documents required
3.2 Timeframe for approval
3.3 Fees
3.4 Additional step – LPI.

Timelines for Ethics Committee (EC) approval

This is the most interesting part of the Thailand clinical trial regulatory scenario – expected timelines for approval. It varies so greatly among all parties, and even for a particular agency, expected timelines can not always be, well, expected. But the good news is there are average or median timelines available from experience / latest updates, which one can use for their project planning.

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Check out below given timelines and feel free to use them in your planning. They’re updated as per the latest update (July 2015).

Ethics CommitteeExpected timelines for approvalRemarks
EC – MOPH3 – 9 monthsYes, it can be that long! It’s the busiest EC with lots of applications submitted every month.
IHRP6 – 10 weeksLike it? Me too. Sad, it’s not completely active now.
CREC 2 – 4 monthsIt’s getting better and may steadily replace the gap left by IHRP.
Other recognized ECs 1 – 3 monthsVaries for each site, but most of them approve within 4-6 weeks.
Local ECs1 – 2 months

Import Permit from FDA

  • Importing the study drugs and lab kits in Thailand requires approval from the FDA. This approval can be applied for, after getting EC approval from a recognized EC. In that sense, it’s a serial approval system.
  • FDA has recently made some changes in the import permit process, which although have streamlined the system; have also added some additional activities to be performed. Now, an additional license per invoice (LPI) is required for each shipment.

Documents required

After approval from a recognized EC, an application in the prescribed format is submitted to FDA. In addition to the import license application form and EC approval letter, an authorization letter for the local importer is also required.


The approval is reported to be given in about 2-3 months. Although 20 and 60 working days are claimed for chemical and biological drugs respectively, many projects may experience delays.

If the import permit is to be renewed, then the timelines start afresh. So, it’s a good idea to be careful about planning. 🙂

The charges for the import permit application – the approval process is about THB 25000 (~ USD 700).

Additional step – LPI

  • Recently introduced steps should be carefully considered while applying for an import license. Now, in addition to securing the import permit, each import of drugs will have to be additionally approved through an electronic system. In absence of such a license, drugs will get stuck at the customs. 🙁
  • The documents required for LPI are similar to the import permit, while some additional documents like a certificate of analysis will also be required. It’s also strongly advised to check the information provided in documents for accuracy. Any wrong information may lead to custom restraint and additional expenses.
  • Having considered the above details, it’s worth noting that the process of the import permit is still being reported to be under review by the Thai FDA. So, expect some changes soon. One may also want to check with the Thai FDA before application.

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