The US Food and Drug Administration announced plans to revise the current good manufacturing practice (GMP) regulations at a conference held jointly by the agency and Xavier University in Cincinati, Ohio, June 13-16. Brian Hasselbalch, representing the Office of Compliance’s Division for Manufacturing and Drug Product Quality within FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, was speaking as part of the first joint annual Global Outsourcing Conference at the school.
According to Haselbalch’s presentation, which is available on the Xavier website, a draft of new CGMP regulations focusing on component controls is expected before the year’s end. Potential revisions include requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to physically audit their suppliers (i.e., no more paper audits), test containers in each shipment received, implement tamper-evident packaging and security features, notify FDA of contaminated shipments and lots, and to use only those components recognized as safe for their intended use or listed in an already approved application.
In addition to increased enforcement and information-sharing, FDA also plans to play a stronger “guiding role” in corporate responsibility. Hasselbalch offered some recent guidance documents as examples of FDA’s role in encouraging corporate responsibility: process validation, pharmaceutical quality systems, and testing of glycerin for diethylene glycol. It seems the agency will go even further by issuing a second phase of revised CGMP regulations that focus specifically on corporate responsibility. These revisions might include requirements that management assures compliance, performs self-inspections, evaluates and investigates problems, implements change control, and documents training and effectiveness, according to the presentation.
What’s behind the proposed changes? Hasselbalch’s presentation noted growing gaps in quality control caused by factors such as globalization, new technologies and processes, distribution challenges, and increased outsourcing of production. Between 2001 and 2007, he pointed out, the number of products manufactured outside the United States and the number of manufacturing sites abroad doubled. Some of the new products being imported into the US come from countries with “less developed regulatory systems,” according to the presentation. Along with these more complex supply chains, there has been an increase in pharmaceutical cargo thefts and in drug counterfeiting. More preventative measures are therefore needed.
Industry will have a chance to comment on the proposed revisions once they are issued.
Editor's Note: On June 24, 2010, an FDA press officer clarified that the agency is "considering requiring finished pharmaceutical manufacturers to conduct on-site audits of the original manufacturers for components (i.e., ingredients) that they use in manufacturing."