On October 29-30, 2013, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (“GPhA”) held its annual Fall Technical Conference that featured a Keynote by Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (“CDER”), Janet Woodcock, M.D., the Acting Office of Generic Drugs (“OGD”) Kathleen “Cook” Uhl, M.D., and a variety of other FDA and industry speakers. While the Conference included typical fare such as bioequivalence issues, a predominant topic was FDA’s implementation of the Generic Drug User Fee Act (“GDUFA”).
Starting with Woodock’s Keynote, her message was OGD’s reorganization, including the development of the Office of Product Quality (“OPQ”) to help drive home the message that abbreviated new drug applications (“ANDAs”) need to be high quality for OGD to meet its GDUFA goals. Some of the changes Woodcock spoke about included reviewing generics by dosage form by specialized groups and centralizing elements of the generics program in 2015: microbiology, project management, and a policy office with policy functions for chemistry, manufacturing, and controls, quality issues, and inspections. Woodcock described OGD as having assembled “SWAT teams” to handle specific types of ANDA applications in the backlog, noting that next year will be critical to control the backlog before GDUFA measures kick in 2015.
Next a barrage of quality presentations from FDA and industry followed, emphasizing the need to develop quality metrics, methods to develop internal audit programs to continuously monitor identified quality issues, and FDA’s expectations for quality going forward. FDA said that Quality by Design (“QbD”) needs to be second nature, focusing on metrics that are clinically relevant to patient safety and health. Some metrics suggested included: batch/lot failure rates (rejected, reworked), right the first time, demonstration of active pharmaceutical ingredient/excipient compatibility and stability, and standards for sampling/acceptance plans. Rather than just include passing bioequivalence studies, FDA explained that sponsors need to explain how they arrived at a bioequivalent drug product and their scale-up plans.