ICH Q11 Q and A Document
The topic of starting materials has been a vexed topic for some period. Indeed concerns relating to lack of clarity and issues pertaining to practical implementation led the EMA in Sept 2014 to publish a reflection paper—Reflection on the requirements for selection and justification of starting materials for the manufacture of chemical active substances.(10) The paper sought to outline key issues as well as authority expectations; specific areas of interest identified included the following:
Variance in interpretation between applicant and reviewer.
The registration of short syntheses that employ complex custom-made starting materials.
Lack of details preventing authorities being able to assess the suitability of a proposed registered starting material and its associated control strategy.
The questions and answers are aligned to specific sections within the guideline, although all questions are focused specifically on Section 5—Selection of starting material and source material. There are 16 questions in total covering the following aspects:
Significant Structural Fragment: how should this be interpreted
Impact on Impurity profile of final product: this relates to the guidance within Q11 to include all stages that impact on impurity profile of the drug substance. This seeks to clarify what level would be defined as impactful.
Clarification of persistence
How an applicant should determine which steps impact the profile of mutagenic impurities in the drug substance.
Do all steps that involve mutagenic reagents, impurities, or establish regio- or stereochemical configurations, need to be included in the process description?
Clarification of the stated need to describe “enough” of the drug substance manufacturing
Should all the ICH Q11 general principles be considered and met in selecting starting materials?
Application of Q11 principles to telescoped processes
Application of Q11 to linear and convergent syntheses
Starting material specifications: key attributes
Noncommercial starting materials
Differences: Commercially available vs Custom Synthesis
Requirements for justification of commercial availability
Scope: postapproval change–preregistered starting materials
Life cycle management
Starting material Q11 vs Q7 definition: clarification that this is effectively the same
Key points of note include
“Significant structural fragment”: the document highlights the frequent misconception that this means that a proposed starting material should be structurally similar to the drug substance. It makes clear that in fact the intent is simply to help distinguish between reagents, catalysts, solvents, or other raw materials (which do not contribute a “significant structural fragment” to the molecular structure of the drug substance) from materials that do.
Questions 5.2, 5.4, and 5.5 relate to mutagenic impurities. The answers provided should be useful in assisting an applicant in applying the risk based approach defined within ICH M7.(5)Prior to this there was a general misconception that a step that involved a mutagenic impurity needed to be part of the registered process. Such an assertion took no account of the highly reactive nature of such impurities and their propensity to be effectively purged.(12) The answer to question 5.2 makes clear the framework for defining the impact of an MI on the quality of the final drug substance, aligning this directly to M7 and the adoption of the widely applied 30% of the limit principle, i.e. prove levels in the final active drug substance are below 30% of the acceptable limit. The answer to question 5.4. provides a commentary of the actual practical steps involved in assessing the impact of an MI. Importantly within this it contextualizes the actual risk posed by low level MIs with the following important statement
“Such mutagenic impurities and by-products are usually present at much lower concentrations than reagents, solvents, and intermediates. Therefore, the risk that such impurities will carry over significantly into the drug substance from early reaction steps is lower than for reagents, solvents, or intermediates from the same steps.”
In essence, provided any MI associated with a starting material is demonstrably controlled it is not necessary to register stages that simply employ the use of mutagenic reagents.
Another important point addressed within the document is ‘persistency.’ It seeks to make clear that even where an impurity associated with a starting material does impact on the quality of the drug substance that control can be defined at the stage of the starting material. A classic example would be a stereoisomer. General downstream processing would have little impact on levels. In many cases this has led to a view that the step where such an impurity might arise must form part of the registered process, i.e. the stage of introduction of chirality. This now makes clear that, provided this is effectively controlled within the starting material, registration of earlier stages is not required.
The response highlights several key aspects
Another key point made is the need for an applicant to examine steps immediately upstream of those identified as critical and within those upstream to consider if:
They include a unit operation that has been added to the manufacturing process to control specific impurities that would otherwise impact the impurity profile of the drug substance.
The key point made here is that you cannot simply add multiple purification steps prior to a proposed starting material.
Tight control (e.g., within narrow parameter ranges) is required to prevent generation of impurities that would otherwise impact the impurity profile of the drug substance.
Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the response though is the caveat that if having conducted the assessment described and if based on this the result is that only a small number of chemical transformation steps need to be registered, the Q&A document articulates a need to include one or more additional steps. The reasons stated for this needing to be considered are
Due to the risk of contamination arising from a late starting material and the impact this would have on drug substance quality and
The risk of changes made to the route/process for the starting material impacting again on drug substance quality.
1.Guideline on setting health based exposure limits for use in risk identification in the manufacture of different medicinal products in shared facilities EMA/CHMP/ CVMP/ SWP/169430/ 2012,http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2014/11/WC500177735.pdf.
2.ICH Q11 – Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances (Chemical Entities and Biotechnological/Biological Entities)Q11http://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q11/Q11_Step_4.pdf.
3.Teasdale, A.Regulatory Highlights Org. Process Res. Dev. 2015, 19 ( 4) 494– 498, DOI: 10.1021/acs.oprd.5b00085
4.ICH Q3D Guideline for Elemental Impuritieshttp://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q3D/Q3D_Step_4.pdf.
5.Assessment and Control of Dna Reactive (Mutagenic)Impurities in Pharmaceuticals to Limit Potential Carcinogenic Risk M7(R1) March 2017,http://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Multidisciplinary/M7/M7_R1_Addendum_Step_4_31Mar2017.pdf.
6.ICH Q3A Impurities in New Drug Substanceshttp://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q3A_R2/Step4/Q3A_R2__Guideline.pdf.
7.ICH Q3B Impurities in New Drug Productshttp://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q3B_R2/Step4/Q3B_R2__Guideline.pdf.
8.Harvey, J.; Teasdale, A.; Fleetwood, A.Management of organic impurities in small molecule medicinal products: Deriving safe limits for use in early development Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 2017, 84, 116– 123,DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2016.12.011
9.Questions and answers on implementation of risk based prevention of cross contamination in production and ‘Guideline on setting health based exposure limits for use in risk identification in the manufacture of different medicinal products in shared facilities’ (EMA/CHMP/CVMP/SWP/169430/ 2012) .http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Other/2017/01/WC500219500.pdf.
10.Reflection paper on the requirements for selection and justification of starting materials for the manufacture of chemical active substanceshttp://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2014/10/WC500175228.pdf.
11.ICH guideline Q11 on development and manufacture of drug substances (chemical entities and biotechnological/biological entities) – questions and answershttp://www.ich.org/fileadmin/Public_Web_Site/ICH_Products/Guidelines/Quality/Q11/Q11_Q_A_Step_2.pdf.
12.Teasdale, A.Risk Assessment of Genotoxic Impurities in New Chemical Entities: Strategies to Demonstrate Control Org. Process Res. Dev. 2013, 17, 221– 230, DOI: 10.1021/op300268u
13.EU Guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practice for Medicinal Products for Human and Veterinary Usehttps://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/files/eudralex/vol-4/chapter_5.pdf.
///////////ICH Q11, Q and A Document
The ICH Q11 Guideline describing approaches to developing and understanding the manufacturing process of drug substances was finalised in May 2012. Since then the pharmaceutical industry and the drug substance manufacturers had time to get familiar with the principles outlined in this guideline. However, experience has shown that there is some need for clarification. Thus the Q11 Implementation Working Group recently issued a Questions and Answers Document.
The ICH Q11 Guideline describes approaches to developing and understanding the manufacturing process of drug substances. It was finalised in May 2012 and since then the pharmaceutical industry and the drug substance manufacturers had time to get familiar with the principles outlined in this guideline. However, experiences during implementation of these principles within this 4 years period have shown that there is need for clarification in particular with regard to the selection and justification of starting materials.
On 30 November 2016 the ICH published a Questions and Answers document “Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances (Chemical Entities and Biotechnological/Biological Entities)” which was developed by the Q11 Implementation Working Group. This document aims at addressing the most important ambiguities with respect to starting materials and at promoting a harmonised approach for their selection and justification as well as the information that should be provided in marketing authorisation applications and/or Drug Master Files.
In the following some examples of questions and answers from this document:
ICH Q11 states that “A starting material is incorporated as a significant structural fragment into the structure of the drug substance.” Why then are intermediates used late in the synthesis, which clearly contain significant structural fragments, often not acceptable as starting materials?
The selection principle about “significant structural fragment” has frequently been misinterpreted as meaning that the proposed starting material should be structurally similar to the drug substance. However, as stated in ICH Q11, the principle is intended to help distinguish between reagents, catalysts, solvents, or other raw materials (which do not contribute a “significant structural fragment” to the molecular structure of the drug substance) from materials that do. … The presence of a “significant structural fragment” should not be the sole basis for of starting material selection. Starting materials justified solely on the basis that they are a “significant structural fragment” probably will not be accepted as starting materials by regulatory authorities, as the other principles for the appropriate selection of a proposed starting material also require consideration.
Do the ICH Q11 general principles for selection of starting materials apply to processes where multiple chemical transformations are run without isolation of intermediates?
Yes. The ICH Q11 general principles apply to processes where multiple chemical transformations are run without isolation of intermediates. In the absence of such isolations (e.g., crystallization, precipitations), other unit operations (e.g., extraction, distillation, the use of scavenging agents) should be in place to adequately control impurities and be described in the application. The drug substance synthetic process should include appropriate unit operations that purge impurities.
The ICH Q11 general principles also apply for sequential chemical transformations run continuously. Non isolated intermediates are generally not considered appropriate starting materials.
Is a “starting material” as described in ICH Q11 the same as an “API starting material” as described in ICH Q7?
Yes. ICH Q11 states that the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) provisions described in ICH Q7 apply to each branch of the drug substance manufacturing process beginning with the first use of a “starting material”. ICH Q7 states that appropriate GMP (as defined in that guidance) should be applied to the manufacturing steps immediately after “API starting materials” are entered into the process … . Because ICH Q11 sets the applicability of ICH Q7 as beginning with the “starting material”, and ICH Q7 sets the applicability of ICH Q7 as beginning with the “API starting material”, these two terms are intended to refer to the same material.
ICH Q7 states that an “API Starting Material” is a raw material, intermediate, or an API that is used in the production of an API. ICH Q7 provides guidance regarding good manufacturing practices for the drug substance; however, it does not provide specific guidance on the selection and justification of starting materials. When a chemical, including one that is also a drug substance, is proposed to be a starting material, all ICH Q11 general principles still need to be considered.
With the recent publication of this draft Q&A Document with the complete title “Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances (Chemical Entities and Biotechnological/Biological Entities) Questions and Answers (regarding the selection and justification of starting materials)” on the ICH website it reached Step 2b of the ICH Process and now enters the consultation period. Comments may be provided by e-mailing to the ICH Secretariat at email@example.com.
QbD Takes a Step Forward with ICH Q11
Ever since the FDA issued its landmark guidance Pharmaceutical GMPs-A Risk Based Approach in 2004, the industry has been struggling with how to demonstrate process understanding as a basis for quality. Bolstered by guidance from ICH, specifically Q6-Q10, the pieces have long been in place to build a solution that is philosophically consistent with these best practice principles. Even so, the evolution to process understanding as a basis for quality has been slow. Pressure to accelerate this transformation spiked in 2011 when the FDA issued its new guidance on process validation that basically mandated the core components of ICH Q6-10 as part of Stages 1 and 2. To be fair, enforcement has been uneven and that fact has further impeded adoption, with the compliance inspectors themselves struggling to acquire the necessary skills to fully evaluate statistical arguments of process control and predictability.
One area debated since 2008 is the application of GMPs and demonstration of control for drug substances. Drug substance suppliers and drug product manufacturers have used the tenets of ICH Q7A as the foundation for deciding where GMPs can be reasonably implemented, to establish the final intermediate (FI) and the regulatory starting material (RSM). However, the ability to support the quality of the drug substance has a profound impact on the ability to defend the drug product quality. In the last few years it has become apparent that it was not reasonable to apply the same requirements for drug products to drug substances because the processes can be markedly different. In response to this need, the ICH issued a new guidance; Q11: Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances (Chemical Entities and Biotechnological/Biological Entities). The key ICH documents that impact Q11 are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Guidances Impacting ICH Q11.
The FDA formally adopted ICHQ11 in November 2012 and its purpose is two-fold. First, it offers guidance on the information to provide in Module 3 of the Common Technical Document (CTD) Sections 3.2.S.2.2 – 3.2.S.2.6 (ICH M4Q). Second, and perhaps most importantly, it attempts to clarify the concepts defined in the ICH guidelines on Pharmaceutical Development (Q8), Quality Risk Management (Q9), and Pharmaceutical Quality System (Q10) as they pertain to the development and manufacture of drug substances.
What makes ICH Q11 so important is its emphasis on control strategy. This concept was introduced in ICH Q10 as “a planned set of controls, derived from current product and process understanding that assures process performance and product quality.”
Within the drug product world, the control strategy concept has been elusive as industry grapples with moving from a sample-and-test concept of quality to one of process understanding and behavior. This concept is even more removed for drug substance manufacturers and, in some cases, is more difficult to implement. But Q11 is much more than a mere framework for control strategy. The guidance is structured very similarly to the concepts discussed in the new 2011 Process Validation guidance. Looking closely, Q11 addresses:
• Product Design/Risk Assessment/CQA Determination
• Defining the Design Space and establishing a control strategy
• Process validation and analysis
• Information required for Sections 3.2.S.2.2 – 3.2.S.2.6 of the eCTD
• Lifecycle management
Product design/Risk assessment/CQA determination
Within the context of process development, the guidance defines similar considerations to those defined in the Stage 1 activity of Process Validation. Understanding the quality linkage between the drug substance’s physical, chemical, and microbiological characteristics, and the final drug products’ Quality Target Product Profile (QTPP), is the primary objective of the product and process design phase. The product’s QTPP is comprised of the final product Critical to Quality Attributes (CQAs). Identifying the raw material characteristics of the drug substance that can impact the drug product is a critical first step in developing a defensible control strategy. Employing risk analysis tools at the outset can help focus the process development activities upon the unit operations that have the potential to impact the final product’s CQAs. In the case of biological drug substances, any knowledge regarding mechanism of action and biological characterization, such as studies that evaluate structure-function relationships, can contribute to the assessment of risk for some product attributes.
Drug substance CQAs typically include those properties or characteristics that affect identity, purity, biological activity, and stability of the final drug product. In the case of biotechnological/biological products, most of the CQAs of the drug product are associated with the drug substance and thus are a direct result of the design of the drug substance or its manufacturing process. When considering CQAs for the drug substance, it is important to not overlook the impact of impurities because of their potential impact on drug product safety. For chemical entities, these include organic impurities (including potentially mutagenic impurities), inorganic impurities such as metal residues, and residual solvents.
For biotechnological/biological products, impurities may be process-related or product-related (see ICH Q6B). Process-related impurities include: cell substrate-derived impurities (e.g., Host Cell Proteins [HCP] and DNA); cell culture-derived impurities (e.g., media components); and downstream-derived impurities (e.g., column leachable). Determining CQAs for biotechnology/biological products should also include consideration of contaminants, as defined in Q6B, including all adventitiously introduced materials not intended to be part of the manufacturing process (e.g., viral, bacterial, or mycoplasma contamination).
Defining the design space and establishing a control strategy
ICH Q8 describes a tiered approach to establishing final processing conditions that consists of moving from the knowledge space to the process design space and finally the control space. ICH Q8 and Q11 define the Design Space as “the multidimensional combination and interaction of input variables (e.g., material attributes) and process parameters that have been demonstrated to provide assurance of quality.” In the drug product world the terminology typically applied to the design space is the Proven Acceptable Range (PAR) that used to equate to the validated range.
Here is why this is important: the ability to accurately assess the significance and effect of the variability of material attributes and process parameters on drug substance CQAs, and hence the limits of a design space, depends on the extent of process and product understanding. The challenge with drug substance processes is where to apply the characterization. ICH Q7A recognizes that upstream of the RSM does not require GMP control. The design space can be developed based on a combination of prior knowledge, first principles, and/or empirical understanding of the process. A design space might be determined per unit operation (e.g., reaction, crystallization, distillation, purification), or a combination of selected unit operations should generally be selected based on their impact on CQAs.
In developing a control strategy, both upstream and downstream factors should be considered. Starting material characteristics, in-process testing, and critical process parameters variation control are the key elements in a defensible control strategy. For in-process and release testing criteria the resolution of the measurement tool should be considered before making any conclusions.
ICH Q11’s description of process validation mimics the same description in ICH Q7A but offers up an alternative for continuous verification that mirrors the concepts in ICH Q8 and the new process validation guidance. As mentioned, the enforcement of the new guidance by the FDA has been uneven, but positioning the process validation to satisfy the new guidance requires the drug substance manufacturer to formally implement characterization and validation standards, just as a drug product manufacturer would be required to do.
The quality system elements and management responsibilities described in ICH Q10 are intended to encourage the use of science-based and risk-based approaches at each lifecycle stage, thereby promoting continual improvement across the entire product lifecycle. There should be a systematic approach to managing knowledge related to both drug substance and its manufacturing process throughout the lifecycle. This knowledge management should include but not be limited to process development activities, technology transfer activities to internal sites and contract manufacturers, process validation studies over the lifecycle of the drug substance, and change management activities.
The new ICH Q11 guidance represents the most recent example of the FDA’s commitment to the principles of QbD to define an integrated framework for implementing the principles of ICH Q6-Q10. Although the guidance does not mandate adopting ICH Q8, the considerations required to create a defensible control strategy require a much higher level of process understanding than the conventional approach of sample and test, once the foundation of product development. Defining the requirements is another example of where the FDA is going in terms of expectations for drug substance and drug product understanding. If effectively enforced, this can be a significant step forward, pushing the industry toward a QbD philosophy for process and product development.
/////////Selection, justification, starting materials, ICH Q11 , ich, qbd
Less well known, however, are two more subtle issues that can cause problems with predictive distributions. These are lurking variables and heavy-tailed distributions. Process engineers and scientists need to brainstorm and test various possibilities for a change in the process or its inputs that could increase the risk that the predictive distribution is overly optimistic or is not stable over time.
Some predictive distributions may have what are called “heavy tails”. (The degree of “heavy tailedness” is called kurtosis by statisticians.) We need to be careful with such distributions as they are more likely to suddenly produce values far from the center of the distribution, than for a normal (i.e., Gaussian) distribution.
If the process can be simulated on a computer, sensitivity analyses can be done to assess the effect of various shocks to the system or changes to the input or predictive distributions, such as heavier tails. An interesting overview of these two issues and of how quality and risk combine can be found in .
In conclusion, the ability to understand randomness and think stochastically is important as multivariate random variation pervades all complex production processes. Given that we are forced to deal with randomness (in multivariate form, no less), Monte Carlo simulation has become a useful way to gain some insight into the combined effects of controllable and random effects present in a complex production process. (Interested readers may want to visit The American Society for Quality’s web site on Probabilistic Technology available at http://www.asq.org/communities/probabilistic-technology/index.html). Computer simulation can help our intuition for understanding stochastic processes. Such intuition in humans is not always on the mark. We can all be fooled by randomness. See for example the book by Taleb .
1. ICH (2005). “ICH Harmonized Tripartite Guideline: Pharmaceutical Development, Q8.”
2. Peterson, J. J. Snee, R. D., McAllister, P.R., Schofield, T. L., and Carella, A. J., (2009) “Statistics in the Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing” (with discussion), Journal of Quality Technology, 41, 111-147.
3. Peterson, J. J. (2004), “A Posterior Predictive Approach to Multiple Response Surface Optimization”, Journal of Quality Technology, 36, 139-153.
4. Del Castillo, E. (2007), Process Optimization: A Statistical Approach, Springer, N.Y.
5. Peterson, J. J. (2008), “A Bayesian Approach to the ICH Q8 Definition of Design Space”, Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, 18, 959-975.
6. Davison, C. and Hinkley, D.V. (1997), Bootstrap Methods and Their Application, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
7. Stockdale, G. W. and Cheng, A. (2009), “Finding Design Space and a Reliable Operating Region using a Multivariate Bayesian Approach with Experimental Design”, Quality Technology and Quantitative Management, (to appear).
8. Perry, L. A., Montgomergy, D.C., and Fowler, J. W. (2002), “Partition Experimental Designs for Sequential Processes: Part II – Second Order Models”, Quality and Reliability Engineering International, 18, 373-382.
9. Claycamp, H. G. (2008). “Room for Probability in ICH Q9: Quality Risk Management”, Institute of Validation Technology conference: Pharmaceutical Statistics 2008 Confronting Controversy, March 18-19, Arlington, VA
10. Miro-Quesada, G., del Castillo, E., and Peterson, J.J., (2004) “A Bayesian Approach for Multiple Response Surface Optimization in the Presence of Noise Variables”, Journal of Applied Statistics, 31, 251-270
11. Kenett, Ron S and Tapiero, Charles S. (2009),”Quality, Risk and the Taleb Quadrants” presented at the IBM Quality & Productivity Research Conference, June 3rd, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1433490
12. Taleb, Nassim (2008) Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, Random House, New York.
/////// ICH Q8 Design Space, Multivariate Predictive Distribution,QA, design space, Parametric bootstrapping, complement Bayesian methods.
ICH Q10 was published in its final version already in 2008. However, today many companies still have problems to understand how to implement ICH Q10 “Pharmaceutical Quality System” into practice. Quality Assurance and GMP are basic requirements which have been implemented for many years in the pharmaceutical industry (including the API industry). So what is needed to demonstrate that a Pharmaceutical Quality System has been implemented? Please read more about the GMP Questions and Answers.
ICH Q10 was published in its final version already in 2008. However, today many companies still have problems to understand how to implement ICH Q10 “Pharmaceutical Quality System” in practice. Quality Assurance and GMP are basic requirements which have been implemented for many years in the pharmaceutical industry (including the API industry). So what is needed to demonstrate that a Pharmaceutical Quality System has been implemented?
ICH offers a set of questions and answers which provide more details about the expectations. They were published in 2009 already but are not well-known by the industry. ICH writes: “When implemented, a company will demonstrate the use of an effective PQS through its documentation (e.g., policies, standards), its processes, its training/qualification, its management, its continual improvement efforts, and its performance against pre-defined key performance indicators (see ICH Q10 glossary on performance indicator). A mechanism should be established to demonstrate at a site how the PQS operates across the product lifecycle, in an easily understandable way for management, staff, and regulatory inspectors, e.g., a quality manual, documentation, flowcharts, procedures. Companies can implement a program in which the PQS is routinely audited in-house (i.e., internal audit program) to ensure that the system is functioning at a high level.”
The questions and answers document also states that there is no certification program in place for a Pharmaceutical Quality System. In addition, ICH provides information about how product-related inspections will differ in an ICH Q8, Q9 and Q10 environment. ICH writes: “In the case of product-related inspection (in particular, preauthorization) depending on the complexity of the product and/or process, greater collaboration between inspectors and assessors could be helpful (for example, for the assessment of development data). The inspection would normally occur at the proposed commercial manufacturing site, and there is likely to be greater focus on enhanced process understanding and understanding relationships, e.g., critical quality attributes (CQAs), critical process parameters (CPPs). The inspection might also focus on the application and implementation of quality risk management principles, as supported by the pharmaceutical quality system (PQS).”
In addition to ICH, regulatory authorities also provide further information. The British Authority MHRA, for example, answers the question: Should a company have a procedure to describe how it approaches QRM related to manufacture and GMP? The answer is: “Yes, the procedure should be integrated with the quality system and apply to planned and unplanned risk assessments. It is an expectation of Chapter 1 that companies embody quality risk management. The standard operating procedure (SOP) should define how the management system operates and its general approach to both planned and unplanned risk management. It should include scope, responsibilities, controls, approvals, management systems, applicability, and exclusions.”
The ECA Academy summarised the most relevant questions and answers from regulators like ICH, EMA, FDA etc in a GMP Questions & Answers Guide which allows readers of the document to search for certain GMP questions. A subject index at the beginning of the document lists the most frequent searched terms.
//////////PQS, ICH, Pharmaceutical Quality System
One and a half year after its publication, the ICH Q3D guideline still raises many questions. The EMA has recently published a guideline draft aiming at clarifying the practical implementation of ICH Q3D. Read more here about what is expected in a marketing authorisation application or in an application for a CEP with regard to risk assessment and the control of elemental impurities in APIs and medicinal products.
The “ICH Q3D Guideline for Elemental Impurities” was published in December 2014 as Step 4 document and released in August 2015 under No EMA/CHMP/ICH/353369/2013 as EMA’s Scientific Guideline. The guideline came into effect in June 2016 for all medicinal products currently underlying a marketing authorisation procedure (new applications).
In the meantime, it became clear that implementing in practice the requirements of this guideline has been so complex and led to some marketing authorisation procedures being delayed. The ICH has already reacted to the situation and published 7 training modules on its website. Moreover, a concept paper announces a question & answer document.
On 12 July 2016, the draft of an EMA’s guideline entitled “Implementation strategy of ICH Q3D guideline” (EMA/404489/2016) was published. The purpose of the document is to provide support for implementing ICH Q3D in the European context.
The draft comprises three chapters addressing the most important elements in relation with the implementation of the ICH Q3D requirements. The chapter “1. Different approaches to Risk Management” starts describing the two fundamental approaches to the performance of a risk assessment and the justification for a control strategy with regard to elemental impurities:
Drug Product Approach
Here, batches of the finished product are scanned by means of analytical (validated!) procedures to develop a risk-based control strategy. If – with this approach – the omission of a routine testing has to be justified, the authority expects a detailed and valid justification though, and not just analytical data from a few batches.
The guideline draft clearly gives its preference to this approach. The respective contribution of the different components of a medicinal product is considered with respect to the potential total impurity profile and compared to the PDE value from the risk assessment. All potential sources of impurity, for example from production equipment or from excipients of natural (mined) origin have to be considered in this assessment. This particularly applies to outsourced APIs; here, all pieces of information available from Active Substance Master Files (ASMFs) or Certificates of Suitability (CEPs) have to be used. Substances with a Ph.Eur. monograph should always comply with the elemental impurities limits of the corresponding monograph.
The chapter “2. Particulars for Intentionally Added Element(s)” deals with the common practice in many organic syntheses to add elements to increase the specificity of the chemical reaction and the yield. It is particularly critical when the last step of an API synthesis just before the end product uses a metal catalyst. In such a case, the authority expects a convincing evidence that the catalyst is purged to levels consistently below the control threshold (<30% of the PDE) by means of appropriate methods. All details about the API synthesis including the fate of the metals intentionally added have to be consistently described and documented in the marketing authorisation application or in the application for a CEP. If the routine testing of an elemental impurity is needed, the API manufacturer may determine a specification. This information will be required by the medicinal product manufacturer for his overall risk assessment.
The chapter “3. ASMF/CEP: dossier expectations and assessment strategy” explains who has to submit the risk assessment necessary for an ASMF or a CEP and how the dossier will be processed by the assessor of the regulatory authority. Basically, two scenarios are possible:
1. The API manufacturer submits a summary of a risk assessment/management for elemental impurities
Such information flows in the overall risk assessment of the medicinal product manufacturer and is assessed by the quality assessor/ CEP assessor within the marketing authorisation procedure. All data and documents used for the risk assessment should also be available for a GMP inspection.
2. The API manufacturer doesn’t perform any risk assessment/ management.
The regulatory authority basically expects a detailed description of the API synthesis including data on all metal catalysts used. This as well as the analytical routine controls on elemental impurities performed by the API manufacturer will also be assessed by the quality assessor/ CEP assessor. Nevertheless, the assessor won’t make a final conclusion in the ASMF or CEP assessment report with regard to the compliance with ICH Q3D. This will be done within the marketing authorisation procedure for the medicinal product.
The guideline draft can be commented on until 12 August 2016.
///////////ICH Q3D, Control of Elemental Impurities, EMA, control of elemental impurities in APIs
A step-wise integrated risk-based approach to determine a control strategy for according to ICH Q3D has to consider data from all kinds of potential sources for elemental impurities in particular from excipients. Read more about the newly created Elemental Impurities Database as a valuable support for performing risk assessments for drug products.
The new ICH Q3D Guideline on Elemental Impurities strongly advocates the use of risk assessments in order to define a final control strategy. Specific challenges appear when risks associated with production equipment, packaging material and excipients have to be determined, and quantified. In particular the contribution of elemental impurities from excipients is not easy to assess due to their big variety and the lack of information from excipient vendors.
Quite recently a pharma consortium started an initiative which aims to collect and share data from pharmaceutical excipients by establishing a database. This Elemental Impurities (EI) Database provides information required for performing a comprehensive risk assessment of a drug product with respect to elemental impurities. Interested companies can contribute to this database by providing information about excipients and may also benefit from this database by taking out information needed for their risk assessments.
The “Impurities Workshop” from 14-16 June 2016 in Heidelberg, Germany provides a comprehensive and practical oriented review of impurities analysis and characterisation in drug substances and drug products. Part III of the workshop on 16 June 2016 is specifically dedicated to Elemental Impurites. In the subsequent post-Conference Workshop on 17 June 2016 the above mentioned EI Database will be explained. The following questions will be discussed:
- What is the procedure of providing data for the Database?
- How can information be obtained from the Database?
- What has to be considered in terms of confidentiality when data will be received or submitted to the Database?
This post-Conference Workshop is free of charge. It ideally complements the previous parts of the “Impurities Workshop” and can be booked in combination with either Part III or all Parts of the “Impurities Workshop”. As we expect a high interest in this post-Conference Workshop participants joining the “Impurities Workshop” (one day or all three days) will be registered first