In the European Union an EU certified “Qualified Person” or QP must certify that any batch of medicinal product is in compliance with applicable regulations before it can be released for sale or distribution. Although originally intended for Good Manufacturing Practice, the requirement for QP oversight is now in place for pharmacovigilance and drug products used in clinical trials. The QP is required to have extensive industry experience and the academic credentials, such as pharmacist or chemist, to provide robust, independent oversight of medicinal products.
The EU has enacted new legislation regarding anti-falsification. In this Guest Commentary, Wolfgang Schmitt, Administration Manager European QP Association, discusses the implications of the legislation for Qualified Persons. The falsification of data is a primary concern in the United States as well. Last year FDA introduced a proposed rule for reporting the falsification of data in clinical trials. On both sides of the Atlantic regulators are increasing their anti-falsification enforcement.
The Anti-falsification Legislation: Potential Consequences for QPs
The 6th QP Forum of the European Qualified Person Association (EQPA) was held in Budapest, Hungary on 1-2 December 2011 with two parallel pre-conference sessions on 30 November. One Focus was on the new EU anti-falsification legislation and its potential consequences for Qualified Persons.A first presentation on this topic was given by David Cockburn, Head of Manufacturing and Quality Compliance, European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London, U.K.. David emphasised the need for the directive to “secure integrity and authenticity of products”. The new safety features like serial numbers and/or tamper-evident seals will mainly have an impact on the QPs at parallel distributors as they need to make sure that the authenticity and the integrity is confirmed prior to the removal of original safety features. And this removal of course has to be done under GMP.
Regarding the more stringent rules for the importation of APIs, the QP needs to besatisfied that the supplier qualification procedures ensure verification that suppliers are registered and that the supplier has been audited. This has to be documented in the QP Declaration. After qualifying the supplier it needs to be ensured that the raw materials are actually received from the qualified sources. When it comes to excipients, the QP should at least check that a formal risk assessment has been performed and documented and that the suppliers are qualified accordingly. This should also take into account information in the EU database for excipient suppliers. However an audit is not mandatory but should be preformed for any excipient identified as critical. Regarding the delegated acts, industry and the QPs need to wait for further details. However the QP will need to be satisfied that procedures are in place to comply with the defined conditions for import of APIs e.g.The aim of the second presentation was to elaborate the industry’s perspective. As Senior Manager Quality & Regulatory Affairs at the European Generic Medicines Association (EGA), Julie Maréchal-Jamil was presenting different aspects. Julie asked the question, how long the overall implementation really will take. Besides the Delegated Acts, other steps need to be taken. It will be interesting to see, how the EC List of Equivalent Countries will be implemented. In the implementation phase of the new Directive, existing guidelines need to be revised and even new ones need to be developed like for example to define risk-assessment principles for excipients or to describe the various confirmations. Julie stressed that currently, there is “no legally defined timeframe for the development and publication of delegated and implementing acts” only a legal timeframe for the entry into force of these legislative acts once they are adopted by the EC.
EGA’s main concerns with the implementation of the Directive on Falsified Medicines are:
1. The so-called “Written Confirmation” of compliance with EU GMP for APIs from non-EU origin. For this process no guidelines are foreseen. Amongst others, EGA sees necessity in having a transition period and a possible risk of heterogeneous supervision of pharmaceutical import and waiver granting in different Member States in the absence of a coordination effort. Here a common central approach will be needed.
2. Process for the establishment of the list of EU GMP “Equivalent Countries.” Here, EGA recommends to leverage existing and operating initiatives like e.g. PIC/S, or MRA and ACAA agreements but also on other similar successful initiatives (Food and Feed) where a staged approach to implementation led to a smooth transition towards a level playing field.
3. Registration of API-related activities for EU-based API manufacturers, importers and distributors (article 52a). For EU multi-sites companies, duplication should be avoided.
4. Pharmaceutical Excipients GMP/GDP. Here, Guidelines should provide a fair reflection of today’s best practices, focusing on cost-effectiveness and existing standards like ISO. Unnecessary over-regulationshould be avoided.
5. Authority/inspectorate funding of the implementation. Details on EGA’s point of view will be published in a White Paper. Both the Forum and the pre-conference workshops were rated very positive by the almost 220 delegates. A survey amongst the delegates resulted in an overall rating of 1.56 (where 1 was the best rating and 6 the worst).Again very much appreciated was the social event on Thursday evening. Four busses with well selected guides took the QPs for an interesting sightseeing tour through Budapest, the famous capital of Hungary. Followed by a dinner in a traditional restaurant on top of Gellért Hill, the participants were able to continue their discussions and share their experiences with their colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.
The 2012 QP Forum will be held in Hamburg, Germany on 22 – 23 December with preconference sessions on the 21 November. At the EQPA Advisory Board on 02 December 2011 in Budapest, a structure was defined and first presentations and parallel sessions identified.
European QP Association, an Interest Group of the ECA Foundation
P.O. Box 10 21 68
There will be a conference in Bethesda, MD on 27-28 June 2012. The conference goals are: “The European Compliance Academy ECA and the European QP Association, recognising this need for further professional knowledge development, intend to support the pharmaceutical industry outside Europe in understanding the European approach and legal framework in this respect. Therefore the QP Association has set up the programme at hand on European GMP requirements and the role of the QP.”
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