Woodcock Committed to New Drug Quality Office

Establishing a new Office of Product Quality in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is a top priority for CDER director Janet Woodcock, and she plans to take charge of the operation personally when it is established next year. Her much-discussed reorganization effort is not just an exercise in moving around boxes, but aims to ensure the delivery of quality medications to patients, she explained at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association’s Fall Technical Conference in October.

Woodcock expects OPQ to become operational in 2014, and is moving forward with completion of a concept of operations for the new office, along with an organizational structure. But it is “not a done deal,” Woodcock observed at the ISPE annual meeting last month. She expects it will take at least six months for the new organization “to become real.”

One aim is to establish “one voice for how FDA regulations drug quality”––within CDER and in its relationships with other FDA of offices and other regulatory authorities. This will apply to new drugs, generics, over-the-counter products––biotech therapies and small molecules alike.

OPQ will form specialized staffs for product review and for inspections, with specific units to handle active pharmaceutical ingredients, new drugs, biotech products, and “life cycle drugs” (i.e., generics). OPQ also will bring together microbiologists for all products to provide a unified approach to microbiology.

A new Office of Surveillance in OPQ will oversee quality performance at facilities through pre-approval and routine inspections, with an eye to evaluating if an operation meets performance metrics that indicate a quality operation. And a Policy Office will issue guidance and regulations, while ensuring consistency in CDER actions. Surveillance will be enhanced by CDER gaining more complete information on its inventory of establishments, an undertaking that ideally will lead to less frequent field inspections.

Another theme is to “mitigate risks” by applying appropriate measures and analytical methods to different products. Woodcock expects risk assessment for every product to evaluate critical issues and employ statistically valid sampling.

The main aim of this reorganization is to achieve a “culture of quality in industry,” Woodcock said at the ISPE meeting. These plans will require considerable change within FDA and in industry, and manufacturers, she added, have to recognize that there is a “cost to poor quality.”

Regulatory and QA/QC Focus: Elemental Impurity Analysis

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editorAs the pharmaceutical industry prepares for changes to compendial and regulatory standards for elemental impurity analysis, QA/QC and laboratory scientists are tasked with adapting their operations to include data management, analysis, and reporting based on inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP–MS). Understanding the necessary technical controls to implement and manage analytical operations is crucial to ensure regulatory compliance. Pharmaceutical Technology will present a live educational webcast, “Achieving Regulatory Compliance When Moving to ICP-MS for Elemental Impurity Analysis,” on Wednesday, November 6, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EST to provide insight from leading industry experts on ICH, USP, and EMA guidelines for elemental impurity analysis and best practices and strategies to optimize the analytical workflow, data management, and data reporting when using ICP-MS. Read more »

Preparing for Regulatory Inspections

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editorRegulatory compliance is of paramount importance to pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, which must be continually prepared for inspections by FDA, EMA, and other health authorities to meet requirements for good clinical practices (GCP) and good manufacturing practices (GMP). Pharmaceutical Technology will present an educational webcast on Thursday Nov. 7th from 1:00 to 2:00 PM EST, “Ensuring Preparedness for Regulatory Inspections,” which will provide insight on inspection trends and practical advice on how to best prepare for GCP/GMP inspections, examine the key information/documentation sought by regulators, and ways to achieve operational efficiency for providing access to that information. Read more »

Industry Needs to Drive the Dialogue Regarding FDA’s Quality Metrics Initiative

Guest blog written by Walter Morris, Director of Publishing, Parenteral Drug Association, on behalf of the PDA Quality Metrics Task Force

The US FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) reached out earlier this year to industry and the public for input into plans to implement parts of the 2012 Food Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA).1 Quality manufacturing leaders in the industry must now seize this opportunity to help bring about real changes to a system of regulatory inspection and enforcement that, in spite of reasonable attempts at reform over the last decade, is struggling with new challenges. Continued high-cost enforcement actions, plant closures, drug shortages and, regrettably, real harm to patients have pushed everyone involved with this industry to recognize, finally, that a new regulatory and quality paradigm is needed.

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Pharma Moves Towards Continuous Manufacturing and Low-Cost Products

It’s Day 2 at CPhI and the remaining findings of the annual expert industry report were released today during the show. As continuous processing continues to revolutionize manufacturing, Emil Ciurczak, principal at Doramax Consulting, believes that large batch production will one day be a thing of the past. Read more »

From Blockbusters to Niche Medicines

CPhI Worldwide and CPhI Pharma Evolution, part of UBM Live’s Pharmaceutical Portfolio, today released Part II of the CPhI annual industry report, in which expert industry panel members share their views on trends that will drive growth and innovation across the pharmaceutical industry over the coming years and beyond.

The pharmaceutical industry is shifting away from the blockbuster model towards the development of personalized medicines and niche, individualized therapies and associated companion diagnostics, noted Sam Venugopal, director, healthcare, PricewaterhouseCoopers. These drugs target specific populations and genomic makeups and are known to have greater efficacy. William Botha, Sensei at Interlean, added that there will also be companies moving towards commodity-based, low-margin products. As a result, one can expect to see increased specialization, particularly amongst small and medium companies. Read more »

Shutdown Forces FDA, HHS No-Shows

Officials from FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were scheduled to explain developments in clinical trial registration and transparency at the Drug Information Association’s conference on Clinical Trial Disclosure in Bethesda, Md. this week. They sent in slides, and one HHS official even pre-recorded his presentation. But the government shutdown kept them from showing up in person.

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Budget Showdown Leads to Partial FDA Shutdown

US government agencies, including FDA, faced the first shutdown in 17 years when the House of Representatives and Senate failed to reach agreement on a budget. While national parks and landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty were closed on October 1 and thousands of government workers were idled, FDA expects to retain approximately 55% of its staff during the current partial government shutdown.

According to a Department of Health and Human Services statement, FDA will continue limited activities related to its user fee-funded programs. The agency will also continue “select vital activities including maintaining critical consumer protection to handle emergencies, high-risk recalls, civil and criminal investigations, import entry review, and other critical public health issues.”

The agency reports that it will not support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities and may have to cease safety activities such as “routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.

Reviews of pending approvals for several drugs, originally scheduled for early October, were uncertain as of Oct. 1.

A provision by House Republicans to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act appears to be the major sticking point to an agreement. If elected officials get past this roadblock, the next big debate, over increasing the debt ceiling, is just two weeks away.

Congress Clarifies Drug Compounding, Tracking Policies

Public outrage over deaths from contaminated injectibles produced by large compounding pharmacies, along with rising concerns about counterfeit and unauthorized drugs entering the U.S. market, managed to lift the stalemate on Capitol Hill long enough to generate agreement on reform legislation. After months of public hearings and negotiations, Democrat and Republican leaders of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unveiled a compromise bill last week. No one gets all they wanted from the Drug Quality and Security Act, but it provides more clarity and predictability to drug oversight programs and moves forward initiatives designed to enhance the safety and quality of medicines in the U.S.

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Pharma Revenues, Health Expenditures Set to Increase

Healthcare spending will rise modestly in the US over the next decade, as economic growth picks up, health reform provides expanded coverage, and the population continues to age, according to an annual analysis from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These trends similarly will boost expenditures for prescription drugs, but not as quickly as in previous decades.

Outlays for healthcare in the US have grown much more slowly over the past three years, largely due to an economic decline that deterred individuals from seeing doctors and to increased cost-sharing requirements for the privately insured. Minimal growth is continuing this year, but expenditures will begin to rise in 2014, boosting the average growth rate for national health spending to 5.8% through 2022, according to the National Health Expenditure Projections from the CMS Office of the Actuary and published by Health Affairs. Much of the spending will come from public agencies, as healthcare financed by federal, state, and local governments reaches $2.4 trillion in 2022, nearly half of all national health outlays.

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