Monday, December 14, 2009

Advantages of Compendial Methods

By Dr. Lori Nixon

When you are developing a new product specification, it is usually recommended to rely on the appropriate compendial method for applicable “generic” quality characteristics such as pH, residual solvents, trace metals, bioburden, etc. By compendial method, we mean methods that are described as chapters in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or others that may be applicable for a specific regulatory region. The three main compendia include the USP, European Pharmacopoeia, Japanese Pharmacopeia (USP, PhEur, JP); these are the “tripartite” bodies that are involved in the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH).

photo of USP laboratories from DPR Construction Inc.

Why rely on compendial methods rather than just using your own? It is generally recommended to refer to compendial methods where applicable. The advantage to the drug sponsor is a reduced requirement for validation supporting such methods (the methods themselves are considered validated, and may only require product-specific verification in the particular testing lab). Compendial methods are “familiar” to regulatory reviewers; they are also generally expected. If you propose your own method as an alternate method, you will need to justify why your own method is equivalent or better. For the testing lab, there is some advantage in having methods that can be applied to multiple products (avoiding a multiplicity of similar methods) and where the change process is relatively well-defined and publically communicated. You may also find it simpler to transfer testing between different labs.

To reference the compendial method in your specification, you may refer simply to the test by attribute and chapter, along with the associated limit for your product. For example, your specification may include a limit of 10 EU/mL for bacterial endotoxin as measured by USP<85>. The general expectation here is that at the time of testing, the current version of USP is used. Clearly, this will require that your testing lab is aware of any potential changes to the USP and can prepare for such changes accordingly. As with any other change to an analytical method, changes to compendial methods can impact training, internal procedures, product-specific re-validation/verification, etc.

In practice, labs often rely on additional internal descriptive procedures in order to execute the compendial methods (i.e., rather than just directing analysts to follow the chapter directly). This is usually a good idea, for several reasons. It can be easier to train analysts according to a standard documentation format, and it is often necessary to describe details that may be specific to the particular lab, equipment, instrumentation, reagents, reporting requirements, etc. Again, even if there is a lab-specific procedure, it is usually best to refer directly to the compendial method (USP<85>, e.g.) in the sponsor’s product specification.

Be aware of compliance with compendial testing requirements when you are outsourcing testing. For example, almost any chemical testing lab with have a method for pH, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will comply with USP<791>. For example, in this case the USP method describes measuring the sample temperature within a certain range; often “generic” lab methods for pH do not specify control of the sample temperature. There are additional requirements such as the calibration standards chosen, etc that must also be considered. When reviewing vendor methods, check the following:

- Does the method purport to comply with any compendia? (should be clearly stated in the vendor’s procedure if so)

- Which compendia?

- Check details of the method to ensure that it does indeed comply with the current compendial procedure(s) in question

- Does the lab have a mechanism to stay current with upcoming compendial changes?

- Do they have appropriate change control system to ensure that they can prepare for method changes and associated re-validation, etc?

- Consider what verification/validation is required to ensure that the vendor method provides reliable results for your particular product/sample type.

Of course, the downside of compendial methods is that they are region-specific, and one region may not recognize the compendia of another region. There have been efforts in recent years towards harmonizing methods (ICHQ4B for bioburden testing, for example), but this process is slow and far from complete.

If you intend to market or perform clinical trials in more than one region, you may need to ensure compliance with multiple compendia. In this case, consider the following:

• Has method been harmonized through the ICH process?

• Is it possible to create an internal “harmonized” method that meets the requirements of all relevant compendia?

• Is it possible to meet the requirements of all by following the “most stringent” compendial procedure?

• Will you need to test by multiple procedures to generate results acceptable to each region?

No comments:

Post a Comment