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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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.

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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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