Meeting Technical and Regulatory Requirements for Organic Impurity Control and Analysis

Patricia Van Arnum PharmTech editorProduct quality is of paramount importance to pharmaceutical manufacturers, and implementing a strategy for impurity control is crucial. Organic impurities cover a wide spectrum of compounds that have varying structures, behaviors, and characteristics. Organic impurities can result from the manufacturing process, storage conditions, or degradation resulting from light, heat, and other external factors. Deciding what technology or analytical methods to use to detect and measure organic impurities is a challenge. Pharmaceutical Technology will hold a live educational webcast, “Meeting Regulatory and Technical Requirements for Organic Impurity Analysis, on Tuesday Sept. 24 at 11:00 AM EDT to 12:00 PM EDT to provide insight on the regulatory, compendial, and ICH requirements for organic impurity control and analysis as well as best practices in analytical method development, method selection, and method validation for detecting and quantifying organic impurities in drug substances and drug products.

The panelists for the webcast will be: Timothy Watson, PhD, and research fellow in the GCMC Advisory Office at Pfizer and a member of the PhRMA Expert Working Group on the ICH Q11 regulatory guidance document for drug substances; Mark Argentine, PhD, senior research advisor, analytical sciences R&D with Eli Lilly; and Hildegard Bruemmer, PhD, operational laboratory manager, SGS Life Science Services, Berlin. The panelists will provide insight on the regulatory and compendial requirements for organic impurity control and analysis in drug substances and drug products. They will also share insight on selecting the appropriate analytical methods for the detection, analysis, and quantification of organic impurities and offer related case studies on how best to ensure product quality.

Audience members may ask questions of the panelists during the live webcast. Information on how to register for the webcast, “Meeting Regulatory and Technical Requirements for Organic Impurity Analysis” for Tuesday Sept. 24 at 11:00 AM EDT to 12:00 PM EDT and for on-demand viewing is available here.

Examining Containment Strategies in High-Potency Manufacturing

With the increasing use of high-potency APIs, it is more important than ever to have an appropriate containment strategy to protect both the quality of your product and the safety of your personnel. Many important questions should be asked. Have you considered environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) issues early in your product development process? What are OELs and how should you evaluate industrial hygiene exposure? How can you prevent exposure? What elements are crucial for containment?

To examine these questions and others, Pharmaceutical Technology will host a complimentary, educational, live webcast, Containment Strategies in High-Potency Manufacturing, on Thursday, September 12 at 11:00 AM EDT. This 30-minute webcast will focus on current best practices and strategies for containment in high-potency manufacturing.

The webcast will be presented by John Farris, a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president & CEO of SafeBridge Consultants.  John is a recognized expert in the safe handling of potent pharmaceutical compounds.

Audience members will be able to ask questions for additional insight during the live webcast on Thursday, September 12. Additional information and registration for the live webcast and on-demand viewing may be found at www.pharmtech.com/highpotency.

Neutron Studies Reveal New Areas for Improvement in Drug Design of HIV Inhibitors

A team of scientists recently reported on the first study of interactions between the antiretroviral drug, amprenavir, and the HIV-1 protease enzyme. The findings provide the first true picture of how the protease inhibitor blocks viral replication. More importantly, the study reveal how drug design can be improved to enhance performance, combat resistance and reduce dosage of antiretroviral medications to treat HIV. Read more »

The Truth Behind China Bribery Scandals

VLUU L110  / Samsung L110The last few weeks have seen the media swamped with stories about the rampant bribery clawing the pharmaceutical industry in China. Big names were engulfed in the scandal, including GSK, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and UCB amongst others.

Last month, four GSK executives were put under investigation for allegedly paying up to $480 million to doctors, hospital administrators, government officials and medical groups to promote the use of its medications. The limelight then shifted to Sanofi when some of its employees were accused of paying bribes totaling up to $280,000 to more than 500 Chinese doctors across 79 hospitals six years ago. The newspapers also alleged that Sanofi paid doctors 80 yuan each time a patient bought its products, with the largest payment said to be 11,200 yuan.

Novartis has also fallen prey to bribery allegations in China. The Swiss drug maker was accused of paying doctors $8000 to prescribe its cancer drug, Sandostatin LAR. Sales figures were expected to increase in June and July this year as a result. Eli Lilly is now the latest being investigated after a former employee alleged in a report that the company spent more than $490,000 to bribe doctors in China. The former sales manager said that Eli Lilly offered kickbacks to ensure doctors used its drugs, including its insulin brand. Read more »

Falsified Medicines Directive Enforced in the UK

Craig Stobie from Domino Printing Sciences shares on how to prepare for FMD and other emerging legislation.

The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) has finally been transposed into UK legislation. The FMD came into force on 20 August 2013. “It is now time for pharmaceutical manufacturers to walk the talk,” said Craig Stobie, global life sciences sector manager at Domino Printing Sciences. Read more »

Myriad Ruling Will Undermine Global Biotech investment But All Is Not Lost

Guest blog written by Adrian Tombling, partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers LLP.

The US Supreme Court ruling in the so-called ‘Myriad case’ regarding the patentability of human genes will undermine global biotech investment but all is not lost. Judge Thomas, in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, effectively tightened the rules on the patentability of human genes, finding that all naturally occurring gene sequences, even when isolated in the laboratory, are not patentable. In future, only non-naturally occurring gene sequences (e.g., sequences that have been modified or entirely created in the laboratory), will be patentable, and therefore, attract investment from biotech companies. Read more »

True Pharma Innovation Lies in Quality, not Quantity, of Approvals, say FDA Analysts

We’re already embroiled in the annual speculation game about whether FDA approvals this year will keep pace with last year’s near-record of 39 new molecular entities (NMEs) brought to market. The tally is closely watched as a sign of the state of biopharmaceutical innovation and the health of the pharmaceutical industry and biomedical research enterprise.

But this focus on the quantity of new drug approvals is misleading, according to FDA analysts, because it fails to distinguish between truly innovative new therapies and those that are similar to medicines already on the market, explains Mike Lanthier, operations research analyst on the economics staff of FDA’s Office of Planning. While all NMEs offer some therapeutic advantage, those that are “first-in-class” and “advance-in-class” medicines represent important advances, he explains. Alternatively, “addition-to-class” therapies may provide useful options for patients, but not substantial advances over existing products. And it is this last category that has experienced the much-hyped decline in approvals in recent years, while more vital therapies are holding steady or increasing in number, Lanthier points out in an FDA Voice blog posted Aug. 6, 2013. This “more nuanced and informative” assessment of NME categories thus refutes fears of an “innovation gap” that threatens drug discovery.

One factor may be a rise in small biopharma companies developing more innovative drugs, while large drug companies have focused on refining blockbuster drugs for large patient populations. NMEs from small companies have increased notably since 1996 and now account for 50% of approvals, compared to roughly one-third in the past, Lanthier and colleagues explain more fully in an article in the August 2013 issue of Health Affairs.

FDA initiatives also may support these developments. Most innovative NMEs have benefited from priority review treatment, and the new breakthrough drug program and added incentives for new antibiotics and pediatric treatments promise to expedite the development of innovative therapies. It’s also possible, the authors say, that the increased influence of large pharmacy benefit management firms reduces reimbursement for pricey drugs that lack proven benefits.

Another measure of biopharma innovation may be the number of new drug applications filed with FDA, although the quantity-over-quality measure also may apply here.

Court Ruling Threatens Drug Shortage Remedy

The Food and Drug Administration may no longer be able to alleviate shortages in vital drugs by permitting the import of unapproved medicines following a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The ruling of July 23, 2013 also raises broader questions about when and how FDA can “exercise regulatory discretion” in deciding certain policy and enforcement issues.

According to a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, FDA’s action to permit import of thiopental from an unregistered foreign establishment was “not in accordance with law,” even though the aim was to address the shortage of a needed medicine. The ruling in Cook et al v. FDA (case No. 12-5176), which upholds a previous decision by a federal district court, involves a shortage of thiopental sodium, which created serious problems for state law enforcement officials seeking to use it in delivering lethal injections. A group of death row inmates from three states filed suit, claiming that FDA violated the law by improperly allowing shipments of a misbranded and unapproved new drug to enter the United States..

The Appeals Court specifically rejected FDA’s argument that it can legally address drug shortages by permitting the import of drugs approved by other regulatory authorities. Among its various tools for combating serious short supply situations, FDA also cites authority to allow distribution of a product suffering from quality problems, but found by the agency to “not cause undue risk to patients.” Other FDA relief strategies are to work with sponsors to resolve manufacturing issues, expedite inspections and reviews of short supply products, identify additional manufacturers willing to initiate or increase production, extend product expiration dates, and help firms qualify new sources of raw materials.

FDA has permitted unapproved imports 17 times in recent years, according to its announcement in May on authorizing the import of injectable total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solutions. These products are desperately needed by hospitals to treat premature infants who are unable to eat or drink, as well as cancer patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgeries. In this case, FDA authorized Fresenius Kabi USA to import TPN products from its Norway plant. The agency took this step after American Regent/Luitpold shut down operations at the end of 2012 to address quality issues that left particulate matter in injectable products. In this and other cases, FDA says that it evaluates the overseas drug to ensure that it is of adequate quality and informs doctors of the status of the imported product.

The July Appeals court ruling is regarded as a victory for death penalty opponents, who had pressured other manufacturers to discontinue production of thiopental and other “death drugs.” Yet state officials had urged FDA to appeal last year’s district court ruling in order to obtain needed supplies to carry out executions according to law. In that earlier lower decision, the judge accused FDA of hypocrisy, pointing out that the agency prevents consumers from purchasing medicines over the Internet because it deems the products misbranded and unapproved. The Appeals Court agreed, noting that FDA can address specific shortages through other strategies, such as designating an unapproved foreign drug as investigational to allow its importation.

This legal challenge to FDA use of enforcement discretion also could provide support for K-V Pharmaceuticals, which is challenging FDA’s failure to block competitors from producing the pre-term birth drug Makena (hydroxyprogesterone caproate injection). In this case, explains attorney Kurt Karst of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, the D.C. District Court has sided with FDA, stating that the agency has the right to refuse to take action to stop pharmacy compounding of the drug. Kurt speculates in the FDA Law Blog that the recent Cook case will have a “huge effect” on how it deals with drug shortages [see www.fdalawblog.net July 23, 2013].

Drug Development: To Sue or Not to sue?

Guest blog written by Dr Nicholas Jones, partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers LLP.

While it may not happen often, clinical trials can sometimes be halted by patent disputes, leading to costly delays in bringing new drugs to market. At last, the UK Government has decided to do something about this in a bid to make UK patent law more consistent with that in some other parts of the world. Read more »

Prepare for Serialization Now

Upcoming requirements in the US and around the world for serialization and track and trace of pharmaceuticals were a focus of the Pharmapack conference held in Philadelphia, PA earlier this week. Momentum toward implementing these technologies across packaging lines is building as deadlines, including California’s requirements in 2015 and others around the world, approach. After listening to several presentations and a panel discussion, the message I heard loud and clear was that time is of the essence and that packagers should prepare for serialization now. Read more »

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