GxP Perspectives Calls it a Day

July 23, 2012

GxP Perspectives is Calling it a Day

On 13 February 2009 GxP Perspectives came into existence as the fledgling blog, Carl’s Blog on FDA Stuff. Since then the blog has published 202 additional posts, many by experienced GxP Professionals, and has accumulated 607 email subscribers and 577 members of the GxP Perspectives Linkedin Group. However, putting out a blog takes up a lot of time and energy and I have pretty much run out of things to say. So rather than see the blog sort of fizzle the way of so many internet efforts, I am going to call it a day. This is my last post.

I intend to keep the Linkedin group active as we have some good discussions. I am also keeping the blog up as we get about 1,700 to 2,000 page views a week. There is a lot of good information on the blog. You can see the top eight blog posts for the past week at the top of the sidebar to your right.

I realized that GxP Perspectives‘ days were numbered when there was a front page article in the New York Times about email surveillance by FDA managers of scientists at FDA. I had absolutely nothing to say and, to my credit, I didn’t say it. I would like to direct your attention to FDA Matters by Steve Grossman which has an excellent blog post on the subject. He gives a good, fair account about an issue that we don’t know the full story about. Good for Steve.

Feel free to leave a comment. If you have a question I will try to give an answer or ask someone who can. Best regards and good luck to all of you.

23 July 2012 – Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives

You can still join the GxP Perspectives Linkedin Group

One additional point: My wife, Cathy J. Tashiro, just had her book come out in paperback. No, it has nothing to do with GxPs or clinical trials, she is a sociologist. Her book is:

Standing on Both Feet: Stories of Older Mixed Race Americans


Three Things That You Should Know About Part 11

June 4, 2012

Part 11

Three Tips on Part 11

What is FDA doing about Part 11? Is the regulation for electronic records and electronic signatures still in force? – The answer is YES – What, if anything, should my company or clinical site be doing about it. Strict compliance can be very expensive- almost as expensive as no compliance at all! Here are three tips on Part 11 compliance from veteran consultants and regular GxP Perspectives contributors, Emma Barsky and Len Grunbaum. I first met Len at the last FDA training course I attended as an FDA field inspector. He is still training FDA and Industry on computerized systems. Given that FDA is focusing more and more on the automated processes and integrity of the data collected using automated means, Part 11 is more important than ever.

Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives

GUEST COMMENTARY
Three things you need to know about 21 CFR part 11
by Emma Barsky & Len Grunbaum

Fifteen years after becoming effective, 21 CFR part 11 seems to generate as much controversy as it did when it was first implemented. At this point in time, we cannot think of another regulation that sparks as many disagreements with respect to its interpretation and generates as many discussions. Why is that?

Since the inception of the regulation as of August 1997, compliance has been, in our view, analogous to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: compliance in some companies has been too hot (i.e., too restrictive and expensive); compliance in some companies has been too cold (i.e., minimal if any at all); and, compliance in some companies has been just right (i.e., cost-beneficial and based on an effective risk assessment). So, while we do not in any way want to equate compliance with the regulation to a bowl of porridge, we hereby offer three main things that you need to know about 21 CFR part 11 to help you make your compliance just right:

PART 11

THE IMPORTANCE OF VALIDATION

1. You need to know how to assess risks when it comes to 1) developing a validation approach regarding a given system and 2) implementing controls (e.g., audit trails, logical/physical security) to help ensure the trustworthiness and reliability of the records. As indicated in the Scope and Application guidance, the FDA’s “current thinking” on the subject, the agency will expect you to have a justified and documented risk assessment regarding these items. However, in order for the respective strategies and controls to be cost-beneficial in context of the potential of the system to affect product quality and safety, and record integrity, a combination of knowledge of system functionality, regulatory understanding, financial prudence and a healthy dose of common sense are required. Take one of these elements out of the equation and the resulting risk assessment will be neither practical nor useful.

2. You need to know the minimum documentation that must be available to support compliance with 21 CFR part 11. Irrespective of the development model employed (e.g., waterfall, Agile/Scrum), the software delivery model employed (e.g., software-as-a-product, software-as-a-service) or data hosting model employed (e.g., internal data center, outsourced hosting), as applicable, a documentation suite that truly supports compliance should encompass the following:

• User/functional requirements, including 21 CFR part 11 requirements, to describe what the system is supposed to do;

• Technical specifications to define how the system is built and how it works, and which is the critical component in supporting effective system maintenance (e.g., troubleshooting problems, assessing the impact of planned bug fixes and enhancements);

• Development/validation SOPs, and evidence of compliance (e.g., required documentation, required approvals, developer-level and user acceptance testing), to define the process for developing and deploying a system that operates as intended and meets regulatory requirements;

• Traceability between test evidence and all requirements;

• Change control SOP and supporting change request/change control records to ensure that the system continues to operate as expected;

• Training SOP and supporting training records to support staff qualifications regarding system development, maintenance and use;

• IT infrastructure SOPs (e.g., logical/physical security, back-up and recovery, etc.) and supporting records to evidence on-going protection and availability of records.

3. You need to know that, for a given system, the quality of testing and quality of reviews are of paramount importance because they may compensate for ineffective development and/or validation SOPs. In other words, the devil (or in this case the saving angel) is in the details. Therefore, it is important that

• Testing is complete and reflective of true system risks;

• Test evidence is supportive of test results/conclusions and/or does not raise “red flags”;

• Reviews are timely and reasonable (e.g., only a realistic number of detailed test scripts should be reviewed in one day);

• Incident reports are reviewed and approved by appropriate individuals promptly.

If testing practices, testing evidence and/or testing reviews are questionable, they will constitute a serious gap from a risk-based perspective because 1) one may not be able to rely on the given system’s operation, results, etc., and/or 2) data quality and integrity may be viewed as being compromised.

Part 11

Is your Compliance Running Too Hot or Too Cold?

While there are other aspects to 21 CFR part 11 that one should know (e.g., how to determine if 21 CFR part 11 even applies to you and, if not, how to document such a conclusion), the three items discussed above represent those areas where, in our view, compliance tends to be too hot (i.e., potential business risk in that the cost of doing business may be higher than it should be) or too cold (i.e., a potential regulatory risk in that regularity requirements may not be met which, in turn, may result in business risks based on the operational impact of FDA enforcement actions).

Emma Barsky and Len Grunbaum
Partners of The Practical Solutions Group, LLC
609.683.0756
Practical Solutions

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FDA & EMA Regulatory Developments for eSubmissions

May 14, 2012

eSubmissions

Regulatory Developments for eSubmissions

A few months ago, GxP Perspectives discussed eCTD as a Required Format for FDA Submissions. To summarize, in PDUFA V Commitment Letter 8-31-2011, the agency announced their intention of issuing draft guidance for required electronic submissions in eCTD format by December 31, 2012, with final guidance no more than 12 months after the close of the public comment period. Twenty-four months after publication of the final guidance, electronic submissions will be required for all new NDA and BLA submissions (originals, supplements and amendments) with a few specified exceptions. In this update, Kathie Clark discusses upcoming requirements, developments, and incentives for sponsors of clinical research.

Recent eSubmission-Related Regulatory Developments and the Impact on Sponsors
by Kathleen Clark

The regulatory authorities have been busy announcing plans and issuing new guidance related to eSubmissions in recent months. Legislation has been proposed to expedite review of generic drug applications and improve communication between FDA and industry – Generic Drug User Fee Act Program (GDUFA). GDUFA includes goals for FDA such as reviewing and acting on 90% of complete ANDAs within 10 months after the date of submission – but these goals only apply to submissions made electronically, following the eCTD format.

New Initiatives in Europe

regulatory developments for eSubmissions

New Developments in Europe

In Europe, the big news has been the eXtended EudraVigilance Medicinal Product Report Message (XEVPRM). XEVPRM is an XML-based message format that defines the structure and data elements required to unambiguously identify a medicinal product. European Medicines Agency requires that by July 2, 2012, information on medicinal products for human use authorized or registered in the Union is submitted electronically in this format. Sponsors are scrambling to meet this mandate as guidance has been finalized only recently.

Sponsors are often challenged to locate the data needed for submission, and ensure that it is complete and accurate. Vendors have been following the initiative closely, but even so, deploying and validating systems to publish the new message and putting in place the business processes around their use is a significant effort. Some aspects of the mandate remain unclear.

Another ongoing initiative in Europe is the pilot program for the new electronic Application Form, or eAF. The eAF is actually a collection of electronic Application Forms for human and vet med MAAs as well as variations and renewals. These are PDF fillable forms requiring extensive, detailed information for completion. Use of the electronic application forms is expected to yield the following benefits:

• Improvements to data quality and consistency during data entry

• Access to the underlying data entered into the forms in an XML format

• Integration with dynamic lists of controlled terminologies

The eAF pilot commenced on March 12th 2012 and is expected to run for four months.

FDA’s New Validation Criteria and Module 1

The FDA has finalized new eCTD Validation Criteria. They have not yet announced an implementation date, which will be set at least one month in advance of enforcement. The validation criteria represent a major overhaul:

• 56 new validation checks (5 high, 36 medium, 15 low) – 12 checks will be removed

• 161 unique error conditions – of which 22 errors can cause a technical rejection
In the past, the FDA has not validated the actual PDFs that make up the majority of an eCTD submission. The new criteria require extensive validation of the PDF files themselves. This includes validation of

• Fonts (use of standard fonts embedded where required)

• PDF format (1.4 or 1.7)

• Absence of applied security (either password protection or restrictions such as preventing the selection of text)

• Generation of PDFs in a manner that allows them to be text selectable (from electronic sources as opposed to scanned)

regulatory Developments for eSubmissions

FDA’s New eCTD Validation Criteria

The FDA will also be validating bookmarks and hyperlinks to ensure that they are valid and don’t point to external or non-relative locations. Finally, the FDA has provided rules to help sponsors correctly name and place their PDF fillable forms. This is essential as the FDA reads data from these forms that allows submissions to be processed by their automated software, without manual intervention. This is also important to sponsors, as failing to supply valid forms can result in up to five days delay in processing a sequence.

A fillable form should always be submitted, and should be named properly. As FDA requires forms to be signed, if sponsors have trouble applying digital signatures, they should still fill out a PDF form, print, sign, scan, and submit both forms. For details, see the FDA presentation CDER Update: eCTD & Gateway Submissions.

FDA’s Draft Module 1 Guidance

The FDA plans major changes for Module 1, and have issued new draft US Module 1 and Comprehensive Table of Contents Headings and Hierarchy Guidance. These guidances are still subject to change and not likely to be implemented until early 2013. The changes include:

• Allowing for bundled submissions (one sequence submitted to multiple applications). Examples of bundled submissions include new manufacturing site, change in API source, a drug substance change that applies to multiple dosage forms of the same drug, changes in packaging, etc.

• Ability for attribute display values to be updated without having to update the Specifications, eCTD TOC, and DTD .

• Revision of heading elements.

• Addition of new headings and sub-headings, including detailed definition under m1.15 Promotional material. These additions are too numerous to mention but are summarized in Appendix 2 of the comprehensive Table of Contents. (The FDA has emphasized that promotional materials are still not accepted in eCTD format at this time.)

• Addition of new attributes in Module 1 (under m1-forms and m1-15-promotional-material).

• Additions and changes to Module 1 metadata. These are too numerous to mention but are summarized in Appendix 2 of The eCTD Backbone Files Specification for Module 1.

Finally, the FDA has updated the way it organizes regulatory activities within an application. (A regulatory activity is a set of sequences that together constitute a claim, e.g. an original application, supplement or annual report). There are three levels of organization:

Application (e.g., NDA, BLA, IND)

Submission Type (e.g. Original Application, Efficacy Supplement, Safety Reports)

Submission Sub-Type (e.g. Application , Amendment, Resubmission)

Valid Submission types will be based on the Application Type, e.g., an efficacy supplement can be associated with an NDA or BLA but not an IND. The FDA provided a figure to illustrate how the approach works in comparison with the previous approach.

You can see a number of FDA presentations on the topic of Module on the Electronic Submissions Presentations page.

Health Canada Updates

Health Canada is also planning extensive changes. They have issued new draft guidance for CTD, eCTD and Module 1. Health Canada is formalizing the concept of Regulatory Activities through use of the related-sequence metadata. Their regulatory activities are defined in their Module 1 guidance and include New Drug Submission, Supplement to a New Drug Submission, Abbreviated New Drug Submission, Clinical Trial Application and many more. Clinical Trial Applications are not yet being accepted in eCTD format but that is expected to start around the end of 2012.

There are many changes to the table of contents, including correspondence organized under 1.0, much more granularity around 1.2 Administrative Information, more headings under Product Information (IB, more labeling elements, PV/Risk Management plans and information), change of 1.6 Electronic Review Documents into Regional Clinical Information, a new section 1.7 for CTA information, and a new regional quality section, 2.2.R.4 Yearly Biologic Product Report.

eSubmissions regulatory updateHealth Canada is also making major changes in its Module 1 metadata, including adding elements applicant, product-name, dossier-identifier, dossier-type, regulatory-activity-type, regulatory-activity-lead and removing elements submission-identifier, and submission-date.

Finally, on the technical front, the eCTD guidance calls for a technical change to the use of a Schema instead of DTD.

What Can Sponsors Do to Prepare?

Although some of these changes are only in draft or pilot stages, preparation should begin now. Suggested preparation steps include:

• Review the guidance documents and agency presentations

o Ask questions – esub@fda.hhs.gov is a great resource for FDA issues if you need clarification

• Understand the new documents required in the CA/US M1

o Do they already exist and are just not submitted? Or must they be created? Under which circumstances?

o Are they being created using high quality templates authored to the correct granularity?

o How will you handle promotional materials with non-traditional formats (movies, artwork, etc.)?

• Review the new validation criteria

o Are PDFs being created in a compliant manner?

o Are US Fillable Forms being created and published correctly?

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EudraVigilance Medical Product Dictionary

FDA Electronic Submissions Page

Kathie Clark is Director, Product Management for NextDocs, a leading provider of SharePoint based content and quality management systems for Life Sciences. Kathie has an extensive background in document management and electronic submissions for the global life sciences industry and has written extensively about industry challenges in blog posting, journal articles and white papers. You can reach her at kclark@nextdocs.com or follow her on twitter at @kathie_clark.
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This is the 200th post on GxP Perspectives! Join the GxP Perspectives Linkedin Group Here

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Also this marks three years for the great blog by Steven Grossman, FDA Matters. Congratulations Steven! You can read his post on FDA, Me, and Maybe the Mafia!


FDA IP Labeling Requirements

April 29, 2012

FDA labeling investigational product

Does FDA Require an Expiration Date for IP?

What are FDA’s requirements for labeling investigational drug and biological products (IP)? We are all aware of the required statement in 21 CFR 312.6, “(a) The immediate package of an investigational new drug intended for human use shall bear a label with the statement ‘Caution: New Drug–Limited by Federal (or United States) law to investigational use.'” However, is that the only requirement? What else, if anything, belongs? What labeling is against FDA requirements? Is this a GCP or GMP issue? This question came up recently in a discussion with a colleague. It was their opinion that an expiry date was not required. They had stability records for the IP and could show that the expiration date exceeded the length of the trial. Is this sufficient? I disagreed. I felt that the IP labeling should include a lot/batch number and the expiry date.

What Are YOUR Viewpoints? Please comment below.

FDA regulations for investigational new drugs tell us little about what goes on to an IP label. However, we know that IP must be manufactured under the GMPs. Just what do the GMP regulations say about labels? We can find it in § 211.137, Expiration Dating. It states in 211.137(g):

“(g) New drug products for investigational use are exempt from the requirements of this section, provided that they meet appropriate standards or specifications as demonstrated by stability studies during their use in clinical investigations. Where new drug products for investigational use are to be reconstituted at the time of dispensing, their labeling shall bear expiration information for the reconstituted drug product.”

FDA Drug Labels

Consultant's Don't Enjoy Being Wrong

It is clear that my colleague is correct. FDA does not require expiration dates if the IP meets the standards and/or specifications in stability studies. I don’t like making mistakes, but “the proof is in the pudding.” This is a very specific regulation that is easy for all of us to interpret. I would have appreciated it if FDA had referenced this in the IND regulation, §312. That is where most GCP professionals go to look for FDA’s GCP requirements. However, FDA frequently doesn’t appreciate what I appreciate, so we find the information in §211.

The second point that this regulation makes is very interesting. More and more drug products require very specific instructions on how to administer the drug or IP. A reconstituted test article can have a very short time period for dispensing. This regulation is equally clear that “their labeling shall bear expiration information for the reconstituted drug product.”

This can add up to a lot of information. Expiration information for a reconstituted drug product, storage temperatures and conditions, and adequate directions for dispensing the IP are all essential information for a label. How in the world do you fit it on one small container? For this, you need to understand FDA’s definition of “label.”

In conducting your clinical research program your ultimate goal is to attain a “label.” This is the physician’s insert that informs the clinician, among many other things, “adequate instructions for use.” Vials of parenterals are usually packaged and the packaging contains essential information that is also considered labeling.

FDA investigational product labeling

FDA Labels Must Not be Misleading

In addition, the handy “informational sheets” that some nutritional supplement or “neutraceutical” dealers keep under the counter at their stores and are given out to answer question from consumers also meet FDA’s definition of labeling. So when they hand you an informational brochure saying that “many studies find” that patchouli oil cures arthritis, yes that can be part of the label. Chances are that FDA would probably find it to be false and misleading.

That means you should have plenty of room for this information on the IP labeling. Referencing it on protocol-specific worksheets that the clinical site may, or may not, use for recording source data is not sufficient. The information needs to be part of the labeling or clearly stated in the protocol. It can also be part of pharmacy manual that is referenced in the protocol. The information needs to be readily available and part of the pre-study training that the sponsor documents before enrollment of subjects.

FDA Labeling

European Requirements

Finally, a European employee of the company my colleague works at informed me that it is an EMA requirement to include the expiry date. However, she had heard that in the U.S. there was no requirement, which she found strange. I find it strange as well. It is my viewpoint that in an era of globalized trials, we should aim for the highest standard. And harmonizing label requirements, when possible, will help the company develop a systematic approach to GCP compliance.

My personal opinion is that expiration dating is essential information for “adequate directions for use,” as required by Section 502 of the FD&C Act. I agree with EMA that the expiry date should be part of the label. However, I live in Tacoma, WA, not in Paris, Copenhagen, or Venice. So my personal opinion is just that, my personal opinion.

Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives

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Please join your industry colleagues in completing the 2012 TMF Reference Model Survey, and use results to inform your TMF best practices.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FPP8DCF

This fifteen minute survey is designed by members of the TMF Reference Model team to provide valuable insight into Trial Master File practices, both paper and electronic, to identify common problem areas, assess changes in practice and reveal opportunities for improvement. All respondents who complete the survey and provide contact information will be provided with the survey results.

Data collection closes June 1st; please join us today.

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What is Your viewpoint on IP labeling? Please comment and let us know.


Quantifying Quality for GxP Compliance

April 8, 2012

quantifying quality GxP

Quantifying Quality

GxP professionals understand the need for quality and quality system and we discuss quality with one another on a daily basis. But how do we measure it? How do we quantify our results? Once again we turn to Len Grunbaum and Emma Barsky, regular contributors to GxP Perspectives, for their insight on how to quantify quality for the development manufacture, and distribution of health products such as drugs, medical devices, and biologics.

Quantifying Quality

In its simplest form, the definition of “quality” is “how good something is.” But what exactly does this mean for the life science industry, whose frame of reference is defined by regulations which are often vague and which provide little or no guidance regarding how they should be implemented?

In light of this, we would like to offer some ideas regarding how to measure – quantify – how good your “quality” is in tangible and practical terms. We contend that such metrics are useful in order for company management to make sound decisions regarding whether and/or where the quality system (i.e., the operational infrastructure that promotes and facilitates “quality”) requires improvement. The following key indicators are not all-inclusive (nor are the items mutually exclusive), but they provide meaningful ways to assess your “quality”:

• Number of successful external and internal audits as a percentage of the total number of external and internal audits: the higher the percentage of successful external audits (e.g., by existing/potential clients, regulators), especially when you have a large number of them, the better your “quality.” Passing one audit with flying colors is great but passing multiple audits with few minor or no observations is way better. It not only sets a trend regarding “legitimate” quality but it also validates the company’s degree of quality from different perspectives. This scenario allows any company to claim that its quality system has withstood scrutiny from a variety of companies and/or regulatory agencies over a long period of time.

While “looking good” to the outsiders is great, “feeling good” about what is under the covers is even better. Therefore, if thorough internal audits do not find any issues that either directly (critical observation) or indirectly (major observation) impact subject/consumer safety and/or data/product integrity, then “quality” is inherent to the operations.

GxP quality quantify

Measurements for Success

You may wonder how a subjective term like “success” is defined in this context. Fair question. A result of “no audit findings” (e.g., no FDA 483s, no audit observations) is the clearest measure of success. A relative handful of “minor/cosmetic” issues is not perfect but is certainly acceptable in this context. To the extent that the number of observations may be “critical” or “major,” as defined above, the audit will certainly be viewed as less successful or even unsuccessful. One should also remember that it is a common thing in the industry to consider a large number of minor observations as a major issue because this scenario gives an impression of a negative trend, the latter of which is not conducive to having quality operations.

Number of “directed” (i.e., “for cause”) audits as a percentage of total audits: because directed audits are performed to follow up on actual or perceived regulatory compliance problems, the higher the number of “directed” audits, the more questions will be raised about your “quality.” “Directed” audits could be external (i.e., performed by existing clients or regulatory authorities) or internal (i.e., performed by internal quality staff). The higher the number of problems confirmed, the weaker the quality system. Even if these types of audits indicate in general that there are no actual problems, or a minimal number of problems, a large number of such audits should prompt questions regarding why the perception exists that the degree of “quality” is such that an investigation is required.

quality

Number of Investigations

Number of investigations/CAPAs: an investigation is a formal and documented process performed to gather information (e.g., root cause, impact) regarding a specific problem encountered (e.g., a customer complaint, a missing controlled document) and which, depending on the outcome of the investigation, may lead to corrective and preventive actions. An “excessive” number (the definition of which is admittedly subjective in nature) of investigations, even if satisfactorily completed and closed, gives an impression that the underlying cause has never been properly identified and/or corrected.

Number of repeating issues as a percentage of the number of audits performed: repeating issues are symptomatic of a quality system that does not correct or otherwise effectively address problems. While isolated incidents are not necessarily a reflection on the company’s overall quality, incidents that span multiple project teams and/or departments and/or are observed more than once may be indicative of quality-related problems. It is very difficult to convince anyone of the quality of operations when problems that are systemic in nature become evident.

The higher the percentage of audits that contain repeating issues, the more likely that this may be viewed as 1) management indifference, 2) lack of management involvement, 3) inappropriateness of personnel qualifications and/or 4) inability/unwillingness to invest in “quality.”

quantify quality GxP

Lost Business

Number of business opportunities lost due to unsuccessful external audits as a percentage of the number of external audits: audits are sometimes performed as a basis for determining whether a business relationship should be consummated or continued (e.g., you will be chosen as a vendor/supplier, an existing relationship will be sustained) or expanded (e.g., a company will be awarded additional projects). Some life science companies (e.g. pharma, biotech) have to get clearance from the FDA prior to being able to market their product. Support companies (e.g., CROs, contract manufacturers) may have to undergo due diligence inspections to establish/maintain/enhance a business relationship. The higher the percentage of such opportunities lost (e.g., loss of a potential or existing client, project cancelled/not awarded, FDA did not grant an approval) because of poor audit results, as a percentage of external audits performed, the stronger the indication that your “quality” is dangerously weak. This, in turn, has a financial “bottom line” impact on the company: loss of business opportunities can also be translated into wasted R&D cost and/or lost anticipated revenue, both of which become a major risk to the company’s financial health.

In addition to the items listed above, there is another important quantifiable component to “quality,” which is too often being overlooked or not being considered at all. This component is what we define as “the monetary expenditure associated with ‘quality.’” Namely, we are talking about an operationally quantifiable parameter – cost of establishing and maintaining “quality” operations. Most will argue that “quality” is very expensive no matter what. We firmly believe that it does not have to be that way if the underlying causes, which directly and unnecessarily contribute to the extra cost of doing business, are either eliminated or minimized. Here are a few examples to give you a flavor of what can contribute to increased costs when it comes to meeting the regulatory responsibility of instituting and sustaining “quality”:

Regulatory compliance decisions that are not defined in writing and/or are not defensible.

Cumbersome and inflexible procedures that require more resources than necessary to execute them without “procedural deviations.”

Inefficient procedures that require the same activity to be done more than once in order to be in compliance.

Ineffective procedures that do not reach the desired objective of being in compliance after the first execution.

Unclear procedures that result in too many on-going corrections in order to inject “quality” into operations.

Too many procedures that company staff must follow without any value added.

Contradictory procedures that lead to generating Notes-To-File, CAPAs, deviations, investigations, etc. because compliance to one procedure results in non-compliance with one or more other procedures.

GxP Quality

The Costs and Benefits of Quality

The above-listed activities not only translate into the need to spend more time and money in an attempt to have operational quality, but a number of these items translate into further quality-related costs to the company. Examples of the latter include, but are not necessarily limited to, taking the time to respond to observations or even worse yet, an FDA-483 or a Warning Letter. We think the point we are trying to make is clear…

Our bottom line is that you can make both your QA and CFO happy by quantifying “quality” in terms that will be understood and appreciated by both. This means that sound decisions can be made regarding whether and/or where to apply precious company time and resources help ensure that your “quality” is as good as it can be without putting the business out of business.

Emma Barsky and Len Grunbaum
Partners of The Practical Solutions Group, LLC
609.683.0756
Practical Solutions

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In News from FDA: Yet another weight loss danger in Japanese “rapid weight loss” pills. Read the story: foodconsumer.org

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FDA & Politics: In the Interest of Science?

April 3, 2012

FDA and politics

Political Pressure at FDA?

FDA Regulates 25% of the U.S. economy and has long been the target of lobbyists from the food,drug, & tobacco industries.The question is always asked: “Is mixing the public health mission of FDA with politics in the current political climate advancing the interests of the American consumer?” Unfortunately, the answer is almost always no. Last December GxP Perspectives published a Guest Commentary on “when Politics and Science Collide,” by April Mayberry. In the 03 April 2012 New York Times there is an extensive page one article on the differences between the Obama White House and FDA on public health issues.

For most readers of this blog it is a question on the approval of health products; drugs, medical devices, and biologics, that come to mind. Is FDA providing the right balance in regulatory oversight? Is FDA making decisions based on science and not political pressure? The issue came to a head over the Plan B controversy that April Mayberry wrote about in her Guest Commentary. In this week’s FDA Matters, longtime FDA observer Steven Grossman talks about different plans to speed up FDA approvals noting that there are rarely initiatives to make sure that FDA scientists have the time and resources to make the right decisions. Grossman notes that former FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal where he states:

FDA and Politics

Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach

What will it take to realize the potential of the new medicine? The United States has the world’s most innovative drug and device companies and research universities, plus the unparalleled National Institutes of Health. What’s missing is a modernized Food and Drug Administration that can rapidly and efficiently bring new discoveries to patients.”

This places the burden, and blame, for new health product approvals squarely on FDA. The New York Times article points out that political pressure has often shaped FDA policy and that there have often been serious consequnces when FDA tries to assert its independence. For example, FDA Commissioner Dr. Jane Henney lost her job for allowing the approval of the controversial drug RU-486. Although then DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala guaranteed Dr. Henney that FDA would have independence to make scientific decisions, she was soon out of a job with the election of George W. Bush.

FDA and politics

Dr. Margaret Hamburg has Supported FDA Scientists on Plan B

Current FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg has not had as supportive a relationship with the current DHHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. They clashed on the restrictive measures insisted on by Secretary Sebelius for access to Plan B. Other areas of disagreement include labels on sunscreens and over the asthma drug Primatene Mist. In an election year the volatile mix of politics and science is even more apparent. In the New York Times article FDA historian Daniel Carpenter of Harvard University warns:

In a globalized world , where trust is a huge part of what American manufacturers have to sell, the politicalization of the FDA’s reputation could hurt not only consumer protection but industry profits as well.”

It should be an interesting year for science and politics.

Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives

Read the New York Times Article

FDA Matters

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TMF Reference Model Update

March 18, 2012

TMF RM

The Trial Master File (TMF)

The recommended and required contents of the TMF, the trial master file, continue to be a concern for clinical trial professionals. This blog continues to support the efforts of the DIA working group for the TMF Reference Model, originally issued in 2010. The most recent updates to the TMF RM within Version 1.2, which was released in December 2011, featuring TMF components at the clinical sites along with those kept by the sponsor. The next version of the TMF RM is planned for release in June 2012. There is expected to be some updated content as a result of feedback received from broad industry use of the model, in addition to extension arms of the model for device and investigator-initiated trials. In this Guest Commentary, Lisa Mulcahy, co-chair for the TMF RM working group, explains the basics of the TMF RM.

The Trial Master File Reference Model

The Trial Master File (TMF) Reference Model (RM) is a supported initiative through the Document and Records Management SIAC of the Drug Information Association (DIA), a recognized and highly respected professional association. Creation of the TMF Reference Model has involved more than 230 representatives, all DIA members, from more than 150 bio-pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations (CROs), consultancies, technical vendors, industry groups, healthcare, academia, non-for-profit / NGO and regulatory agencies. The attention of participants is drawn to the non-commercial nature of this forum. Although it is acknowledged that the resulting reference model ultimately needs to integrate with commercially available products, this was by no means a forum for promotion of products and companies.

The TMF RM was first released in June of 2010 and is a reference for the biopharmaceutical research industry. The model clearly outlines the content and organization of TMF content, at both Sponsor and Investigator site. TMF RM is a reference for the industry and should not be considered mandatory, but rather as an opportunity for standardization across the industry. The TMF RM can be adapted to an electronic or a paper TMF and does not endorse, nor by design, require, any specific technology for application.

The goal of the TMF RM is to provide a single, unified interpretation of the regulations via document listing which would be accepted across the industry. It does not provide guidance in the process by which the document is the output.

Use of the model

The uptake of the TMF RM is broad and it is at a minimum being used as a tool to compare against sponsor already-defined TMF content. It is most often though being adapted or adopted by companies as it provides a comprehensive listing of content created in support of a clinical trial.

Rationale for the creation of a model

The TMF contains those essential documents that individually and collectively permit the evaluation of the conduct of a trial and the quality of the data produced. These documents serve to demonstrate the compliance of the investigator, sponsor, and monitor with the standards of GCP and with all applicable regulatory requirements (ICH Guideline for Good Clinical Practice, E6, Section 8).

TMF Reference Model

ICH E6

Regulatory guidance, such as ICH E6 section 8, addresses only a sub-set of TMF documents. Documentation requirements for the set-up and maintenance of quality systems, electronic systems, safety monitoring, and proof of an adequate and well-controlled trial, to name a few, exist in various regulations across many countries or regions, but not in ICH E6.

The following are additional reasons for creation of the TMF RM

• All companies and investigators conducting clinical trials in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry maintain documentation for each clinical trial. Each company has their own unique TMF structure as defined by their SOPs. No comprehensive common model exists for managing TMF documents. Over the conduct of a trial many functions contribute to the TMF, although oversight of the content is usually not one function’s responsibility – resulting in a highly inefficient work processes including but not limited to:

• All drug development companies and CROs expend considerable resources defining the content of the trial master file for each clinical trial. Consequently, Investigators have the challenge of adapting to different formats and TMF content organization with each clinical trial.

• The burden is very high on smaller companies that usually have limited document management expertise and limited financial resources.

• Records and information exchange between collaborating companies is extremely cumbersome, potentially preventing the joint venture or transfer of an investigational product.

• Regulators are challenged with varying terminology and file structures, creating inefficiency and variability during audits
Organization of the model

TMF

TMF Artifacts

Defined in the model are document types, called artifacts, which one would expect to find in a TMF, at both Sponsor and Investigator site. The artifacts are labeled either core, meaning it must be in the TMF as dictated by either the ICH Guidelines, regulations, or the TMF RM group (if applicable for the trial), or recommended meaning the artifact does not have to be produced but if it is created or collected, it is recommended to be in the TMF. Since the industry often uses unique names, alternate names (as relevant) and descriptions are supplied for each artifact. If the artifact is referenced in the ICH Guidelines, this information is captured.

The artifacts have been organized by Zone – where like artifacts are grouped together:

• Zone 1 Trial Management
• Zone 2 Central Trial Documents
• Zone 3 Regulatory
• Zone 4 IRB/IEC and Other Approvals
• Zone 5 Site Management
• Zone 6 Investigational Product (IP) and Trial Supplies
• Zone 7 Safety Reporting
• Zone 8 Centralized Testing
• Zone 9 Third Parties
• Zone 10 Data Management
• Zone 11 Statistics

Artifacts are created and can exist at multiple levels such as trial, country, and site. An artifact, such as “Safety Management Plan” exists at only 1 of the levels, the trial level. In contrast, the artifact “Informed Consent” can exist at all three levels. These levels can be used to define the paper format TMF.
The TMF RM can be found, free to the public using the following link (cut and paste into web browser address bar:

Metadata

The TMF reference model also details basic metadata which can be used as a starting point for building TMF electronic content management processes. This metadata model can be applicable in all electronic settings, from the straightforward file share to the complex enterprise system.

TMF Reference Model

"This model is designed to capture the unique set of documents"

The trial number is captured on each of the artifacts in the TMF RM. Since this model is designed to capture the unique set of documents associated with a single trial, the trial number is attached to each artifact. Inherited metadata such as Product/Compound, Indication, Trial Phase, and Route is also attached to each artifact and would be required to be entered only once, dependent upon system design.

Date format and convention for which date is captured on an artifact present on every artifact and has been left to those interpreting the reference model within already defined processes. Artifacts would have country metadata associated with them if they were to be created for a specific country and a site number/ID if created at the site level.

Lisa Mulcahy

The TMF RM Online

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Please join your industry colleagues in completing the 2012 TMF Reference Model Survey, and use results to inform your TMF best practices.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FPP8DCF

This fifteen minute survey is designed by members of the TMF Reference Model team to provide valuable insight into Trial Master File practices, both paper and electronic, to identify common problem areas, assess changes in practice and reveal opportunities for improvement. All respondents who complete the survey and provide contact information will be provided with the survey results.

Data collection closes June 1st; please join us today.

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======== A GxP Perspectives Editorial ========

It came as a surprise that Wikipedia, under Electronic trial master file, has a subjective entry regarding the TMF RM. Regarding the TMF RM it states: “it fails to specify any electronic format for consistent document and record exchange.” It then goes on to suggest another group is doing a better job: “In an effort to resolve the obstacles around the electronic exchange, sharing and interoperability of electronic trial master files, http://www.etmf.org eTMF.Org was formed in 2011 to develop a standard for the secure exchange and sharing of eTMF archives…” This is an organization that lists four experts on its website. This is in contrast to over one hundred industry professionals, including myself, who have worked over the past few years on the TMF RM.

Wikipedia can be a useful research tool when the articles are objective and well researched. This article is currently rated 3.6 of a possible 5.0 for objectivity. You can read it for yourself, and rate it accordingly at the following link.

Wikipedia eTMF Article

GxP Perspectives welcomes all comments on the TMF and the efforts by the TMF RM working group and others on the best way to advance a coherent, usable TMF guidance.

Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives

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FDA has issued the final guidance, “IRB Continuing Review after Clinical Investigation Approval.” GCP Guidance Documents may be found here: FDA GCP Website. The new guidance is on the right in the section “In The News.”


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