Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Outsource it, and fuggedaboutit?

By Ray Nims

Much has been written about the rationales and advantages for outsourcing of manufacturing and/or testing services; about the selection of outsourcing partners; and about the optimization of the pharma/contractor relationship. In any pharma/contractor relationship, there are responsibilities associated with the pharma as well as contractor responsibilities. These include both business as well as compliance responsibilities. The business realities and regulatory expectations associated with the use, by a pharma company, of a contract testing organization must be considered when the decision is made to outsource. A contract testing organization desiring to provide services for a pharmaceutical must be aware of the expectations and responsibilities associated with such a partnership. The optimal and most defensible programs will be those in which the various practices to be described below are formalized within internal Quality Systems, policies, and/or standard operating procedures as well as Quality Agreements.

Responsibilities falling upon the pharmaceutical partner include: 1) the selection of the contract testing lab; 2) commissioning and providing test samples of raw materials and products for method verification (compendial methods) and method qualification (non-compendial methods); 3) instituting of a Quality Agreements, business agreement, and/or confidentiality agreement with the contractor; 4) scheduling and shipping of test samples in accordance with the requirements of the testing lab and the test system; 5) providing in-life guidance and oversight of investigations of unexpected and out of specification results; and 6) ongoing monitoring of the performance of the contract lab and its methods.

Responsibilities primarily falling upon the testing lab include: 1) attaining and maintaining GLP or GMP compliance as appropriate for the intended use of the method; 2) providing assurance that the methods offered will be available to the client over the long term; 3) responsiveness to the sponsoring pharma and adherence to the terms of the Quality and/or business agreements; 4) method validation, verification, and or qualification as appropriate for the intended use of the method; 5) control of reagent, raw material, control, and standard inventory and quality; 6) assuring secure and retrievable data archiving; and 7) retention of staff possessing the appropriate expertise for direction of operators and the methods.

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