Category Archives: biopharma

Summer Enforcement Actions for Compounding Pharmacies and Outsourcing Facilities

by Barbara Unger, GMP Quality Expert, and GMP Regulatory Intelligence Editor-in-Chief

July and early August 2017 saw another uptick in FDA actions associated with compounding pharmacies/outsourcing facilities.  In the past few years, the FDA has placed a disproportionate effort towards enforcement actions for these facilities.  We have addressed this focus and the history of these facilities in a previous blog.  The FDA published twenty-one (21) 483s and six (6) warning letters issued to these facilities in July 2017.  It’s clear that FDA’s extreme focus on these facilities continues and the compliance problems for these facilities have not been appropriately addressed. And, more problematic for me, is that firms do not appear to be learning from the enforcement actions taken against others in this area.   In addition, there have been several recalls of unexpired products and notices to healthcare professionals regarding adverse events apparently associated with these products and two consent decree agreements. Let’s look at these in turn:

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US-EU Mutual Recognition Agreement of 2017

A Long Time in the Works

by Barbara Unger, GMP Quality Expert, and GMP Regulatory Intelligence Editor-in-Chief

Implementation of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for drug GMP inspections between the US FDA and the European Union (EU) inspectorates has been in the development since 1998 and was formalized this year. This agreement was driven by the reality of the changes in sites of drug manufacturing over the last decades. No longer is drug manufacturing primarily a ‘domestic’ function, either in the US or European countries.  The current supply chains are global with significant proportions of manufacturing performed across the globe, most significantly in India and China.  Both the FDA and EMA inspectorates have limited personnel and budgets and have been working to leverage their expertise and minimize where the two inspectorates visit facilities that their partner recently inspected, thus increasing their efficiency.  This allows each inspectorate to take a more risk-based approach to inspections and concentrate on those facilities that are in developing regions and provide a large percentage of either APIs or finished products that are prescribed and sold in the US and EU.

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CHINA DRUG INSPECTIONS, 2016

by Barbara Unger, GMP Quality Expert, and GMP Regulatory Intelligence Editor-in-Chief

China published their annual report of drug inspections for 2016 on June 2, 2017.  The 31-page document reports on a variety of inspection types including but not limited to: pre-approval inspections, GMP certification inspections, and GMP follow-up inspections.  The report is accompanied by tables and figures.  For the most part, it is easily understood, but where discrepancies seem to appear between the various values and terminology, I’ve highlighted the uncertainty.  Some types of inspections are absent here, but the report provides specific details on the inspections and the deficiencies identified.

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STARTING MATERIALS SELECTION and JUSTIFICATION

by Barbara Unger, GMP Quality Expert, and GMP Regulatory Intelligence Editor-in-Chief

The EMA published a reflection paper on July 3, 2017, that addresses ‘the requirements for selection and justification of starting materials for the manufacture of chemical active substances.’  The intent of the reflection paper, prepared by the Quality Working Party, is to clarify expectations outlined in ICHQ11, Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances (Chemical Entities and Biotechnological / Biological Entities).  This document covers both human and veterinary medicinal products.  ICH issued a Q&A regarding the selection and justification of starting materials, and the most recent draft is dated October 13, 2016. This reflection paper provides additional granularity on expectations of the EU regulatory authority beyond what is found in the ICH Q&A. Taken together, the reflection paper can be summarized as being ‘all about impurities’, both known and unknown. It also targets catalysts, solvents, and regents that are used in manufacturing starting materials and how they are controlled to ensure consistent manufacturing of the active substance.

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6 Key Take-Aways from the 2016 EMA Annual Report

by Barbara Unger, GMP Quality Expert, and GMP Regulatory Intelligence Editor-in-Chief

The EMA published their Annual Report for 2016 in May 2017, and it provides highlights of their work in partnership with the national health authorities.  Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, chair of the EMA Management Board, provides the Forward to the report, and Guido Rasi, the EMA Executive Director, provides the Introduction.  The report identifies important activities in 2016 and how they advance public health.  It also holds a collection of graphics from a variety of areas including human and veterinary medicines, the European regulatory network, and inspections/compliance. The report also identifies 22 Annexes that may be found on the Agency’s website but are not included in the report.  

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When Will the FDA Move On from Data Integrity?

The FDA has been writing up companies on data integrity since the year 2000. Even after all the horror stories, and even after billions of dollars of market cap have been erased from it, here we are in 2017, still talking about it.

Here is some troubling text from recent Warning Letters that cite data integrity:

“…our investigator observed your warehouse supervisor tearing out pages from your firm’s annual report and placing the pages into his pocket.”

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Why is No One Talking About This? 2016 was the Year the FDA Exploded on China

New data synthesized by FDAzilla has revealed several dramatic shifts with FDA inspection and enforcement activity.

The FDA issued 15 pharma GMP-related warning letters to manufacturing sites in China in 2016 – a 5-fold increase from years prior. China averaged 2.7 Warning Letters per year from 2013 to 2015.  This explosion was led mostly by infamous FDA investigator, Peter Baker, who performed 17 inspections in China in 2016, leading to 13 FDA Form 483s and 4 Warning Letters. Continue reading