There is an increasing interest in the conduct of clinical trials in Thailand and other ASEAN countries. Know more about Potential with Clinical Trial Sites in Asia & West. Among 10 ASEAN countries, Thailand has registered the highest number of clinical trials in the region. Moreover, an increasingly greater number of BA/BE studies are being performed for Thailand submission. 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. Here is a crisp summary of what a general regulatory scenario will be when one intends to conduct clinical studies in Thailand.

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 EC approval

This is the most interesting part of Thailand’s clinical trial regulatory scenario – expected timelines for approval. It varies so greatly among all parties and, even for a particular agency, expected timelines can’t 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.

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 brought 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, 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. All required documents can be listed as

  • Application form for an import permit
  • EC approval letter
  • Location importer’s authorization
  • Protocol
  • Investigator brochure
  • Informed consent form
  • Package Insert
  • Label (Thai – necessary, English – optional)
  • Quantity estimation for import. Note: The applicant is free to request for overages (not more than 20%) in the application.
  • Proforma invoice (from the exporter abroad)
  • Timeframe for approval

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 import permit, while some additional documents like 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.

Any comments or questions related to this post are welcome. Please send an email to or contact us.

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Disclaimer: Information provided here is not being claimed as official. The applicant is strongly advised to check the recent requirements with relevant authorities.

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