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News from Europe's pharmaceutical manufacturing industry coupled with upcoming events, and exclusive articles and interviews from industry experts.
Joint API inspections on the rise
Hilde Boon, the EMA's liason official at the FDA, described a number of ways in which the EMA and FDA are collaborating. "Many of our exchanges concern changing draft review reports and assessment reports," she explained. "We also share pharmacovigilance information and we have ongoing pilots in GMP/GCP that allow us to exchange inspections information and start planning for possible joint inspections."
One of the most interesting developments is the growing number of joint API inspections via a pilot programme being conducted by the EMA, the FDA and Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The benefits? Less duplicate routine inspections — a benefit to both manufacturers and the workloads of regulators — and an increase in the overall number of API manufacturing sites inspected.
"We've heard from sponsors and manufacturers of APIs that they sometimes suffer from inspection fatigue," explained Janice M. Soreth, Deputy Director of the FDA's Europe office and liason to the EMA. "One way to alleviate this is for us to partner and do inspections together."
As of Q1 2010, seven joint inspections have been conducted; one involving the EMA and the FDA, five involving the EMA and the TGA, and one involving the FDA and the TGA. Several other joint inspections are also currently in the process of being concluded.
"In addition to joint inspections or observing one another in inspections, there are also frequent requests from one or the other authority for reports of API inspections that we think may have been conducted by one of our partners," said Soreth.
Perfect harmonisation impossible?
Unfortunately, perfect harmonisation between the agencies is still a long way off and the issue of duplicate inspections still hasn't been nailed. Soreth admits that the reasons for these duplicate inspections still needs to undergo further analysis and that they may stem from lack of communication. In some instances, however, it may be that it was an inspection for cause rather than a simple routine inspection.
"No matter what level of confidence we may have in one another, our laws and our need to defend any enforcement actions we take will probably always leave us in a position, at least for inspections for cause, where we have to do our own inspections," said Soreth.
Another area that the EMA and FDA are working closer together on is GCP. In September 2009, another pilot was initiated whereby the agencies will exchange GCP-related information and conduct collaborative GCP inspections, in light of the fact that more and more data from foreign facilities and clinical trial sites are making up applications to the EMA and FDA.
"This can sometimes present an opportunity for less attention to detail and, in the worst cases, economically motivated deviations from GMP and GCP," said Soreth. "With our GCP pilot, we get our arms around the global conduct of clinical trials to assure ourselves that they're ethically conducted and to assure the integrity of the data that makes up a marketing authorisation application."
There will always be differences between the agencies; however, where possible, efforts to harmonisation are being made. "Whether
we're talking about the pilots or our other collaborations, these exchanges drive us to harmonisation where that's possible,"
said Soreth. "At the same time, it also helps us to identify areas where we diverge or where we look at the same body of data
and take a different decision."
Market rebound in 2011?
IMS Health's new report predicts that the industry will rebound somewhat in 2011, growing at a rate of 5–7%, compared with only 4–5% in 2010, to reach $880 billion. However, it's not all good news as the underlying constraints to growth will be stronger than ever in 2011.
Read more at: www.pharmtech.com/2011rebound
Sanofi gets hostile
Sanofi-aventis has initiated a hostile tender offer of $69 per share for all outstanding shares of Genzyme. The latest offer is similar to previous public and nonpublic offers, which Henri Termeer, Genzyme's CEO had rejected as "opportunistic." The offer is scheduled to expire on 10 December.
Read more at: www.pharmtech.com/sanofi
Pharma companies must ensure that patients have access to "objective, unbiased information" about medicines, according to the European Parliament's Health Committee — this should be a patient right rather than an option for pharma companies.
Read more at: www.pharmtech.com/transparent
EMA adopts new policies
The EMA has adopted new policies on access to documents and the handling of conflicts of interest. In particular, the new policy on access to documents takes into account recommendations made by the European Ombudsman, which earlier this year criticised the EMA for its transparency when the agency refused to grant public access to reports on adverse drug reactions.
Read more at: www.pharmtech.com/emapolicies