by Giuliana Miglierini
The European Medicines Agency has released the input notes made by the GMDP Inspectors Working Group (IWG) as for the drafting of the 3-year workplan for the Quality domain. The document, which reflects the objectives of the Network Strategy and Regulatory Science Strategy, addresses many aspects which may affect the overall efficiency of the pharmaceutical supply chain, both at the routine and specific level.
The document identifies a number of strategic goals aimed at improving the overall integrity and resilience of the pharmaceutical supply chain and the product quality, and to optimise the im-pact of new technologies. Description of the tactical goals follows, i.e., the projects and actions to be activated in order to reach the above-mentioned strategic objectives.
Improved traceability of the supply chain
Strategical goals include the enhancement of traceability, oversight and security for both the human and veterinary medicine supply chain. Four different actions are planned at the tactical level, starting from a better sharing of information regarding manufacturers, distributors, pro-ducts and their respective compliance. To this instance, actions to improve EudraGMDP records are expected.
Inspections of the repositories system should also be tackled by means of a liaison with the Ex-pert Group in inspectional procedures. The implementation of the new Veterinary Regulation should be addressed paying attention both to GDP for veterinary medicines and active substances. Improvement of the inspection capacity may benefit from the development of a specific training curriculum for GDP inspectors; to this instance, the IWG suggests a possible collaboration with PIC/S, through the EU4Health Joint Action 11 and the associated Work Programme 6.
Enhanced inspector capacity
Another strategic goal set forth by the GMDP IWG aims to improve inspector capacity building at EU and international level. To this regard, suggested actions include the support to the international API programme, comprehensive of the provisions of the new Veterinary Regulation related to API inspections and controls. Veterinary specific GMP guideline annexes 4 and 5 should be harmonised in collaboration with PIC/S. The collaboration should also include ongoing initiatives on inspection reliance, in order to better identify barriers preventing member states from accepting inspection results from other trusted authorities. PIC/S and the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Agencies (ICRMA) should also collaborate with the GMDP IWG to reach an agreement on shared definitions, best practices and harmonised approaches for distant assessment and hybrid inspections. The pilot programme for sterile inspections should be also finalised, with participation of all member states. Routine assessor-inspector joint inspections are suggested, as well as a training course specific to the new Annex 1.
The development of a harmonised, EU level guidance on data integrity is the tool identified by the GMDP IWG to reinforce responsibility of marketing authorisation holders (MAHs) for product quality. This goal may be achieved by adapting the current guidance published in the form of Q&As into Chapter 4 and Annex 11 of the GMP Guide, in collaboration with the WHO and PIC/S. A better attention on MAHs responsibilities and to the supervision of API manufacturers should also build upon the recommendations contained in EMA’s lessons learnt report (LLE) on Nitrosamines.
Critical manufacturing sites and new technologies
The review of long-term risks resulting from dependency on limited number of manufacturers and sites should support a better supply chain resilience. The review should be aimed to the identification of sites manufacturing a significant number of products or producing medical pro-ducts for a significant number of markets within the European economical area (EEA). The GMDP IWG also suggests performing cooperative supervision of these sites between member states and other strategic partners.
A better understanding of the possible implications resulting from the introduction of new manufacturing technologies has been also deemed important to regulate the new supply chains. To this instance, the indication of the IWG is to consider if a specific GMP annex would be re-quired in order to support the adoption of new and innovative technologies. As for decentralised manufacturing, this topic should also be evaluated in the GMP Guide to medicinal products other than advanced therapies.
Amendments to current guidelines
The document of the GMDP IWG details the specific guidelines that would need consideration in view of the proposed interventions.
Many actions are planned to achieve their objectives by the end of 2023. More specifically, the IWG expects to provide the EU Commission with the final text of the GMP for novel veterinary medicinal products and for autogenous veterinary vaccines. GMPs should be also revised to include Nitrosamines LLE recommendations to MAHs, so to ensure adequate quality agreements are in place with manufacturers.
The same deadline should apply to the development of specific training material on ICH Q9, addressing risk identification and risk management. This action would support EU members of the Expert Working Group (EWG) and should be coordinated with the dedicated PIC/S expert circle. A similar action is planned with respect to ICH Q12 on lifecycle management and ICH Q7 (GMP for active substances), as well as to other quality guidelines for veterinary medicines. The GMDP IWG is also expected to support the EWG in developing the new ICH Q13 guideline on continuous manufacturing.
Annex 15 on the Qualification and Validation may be revised by Q2 2024 in order to include considerations on new technology in facilities, products and processes, including also the possible extension of LLE recommendations to APIs.
The end of 2024 is the date indicated for the review of GMPs for advanced therapy medicinal products in order to include the new provisions of the revised Annex 1. The same deadline applies to the possible revision of Annex 16 on the certification by a Qualified Person and batch release, in order to provide further guidance on batch traceability according to LLE recommendations. The end of next year may see also the drafting of the final text of Annex 4 on the manufacture of veterinary medicinal products other than the immunological ones, based on comments received on the concept paper and the resulting draft text. A similar action is planned for Annex 5 on the manufacture of immunological veterinary medicinal products.
Chapter 4 (Documentation) and Annex 11 (Computerised systems) of the GMP Guide should be revised to assure data integrity in the context of GMP. The proposed deadline for these actions is Q1 2026.
Support to scientific advice and communication
A specific chapter of the GMDP IWG document is dedicated to actions deemed to support scientific advice activities. In this case too, target dates are provided for the completion of the different actions. These include the provision to the EU Commission of scientific advice on GMP standards to be included in the implementing act on GMP for veterinary medicinal products and active substances.
At the international level, the IWG plans to continue its efforts to reach a better convergence through existing mutual recognition platforms and programmes and to support the EU Commission to establish and maintain mutual recognition agreements. Collaborations with ICRMA, the EDQM, Chinese and Indian regulators should be also continued, as well as the dialogue with interested parties and stakeholders.