Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. It is designed to minimize the risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product. The main risks are unexpected contamination of products, causing damage to health or even death; incorrect labels on containers, which could mean that patients receive the wrong medicine; insufficient or too much active ingredient, resulting in ineffective treatment or adverse effects. GMP covers all aspects of production; from the starting materials, premises and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of staff. Detailed, written procedures are essential for each process that could affect the quality of the finished product. There must be systems to provide documented proof that correct procedures are consistently followed at each step in the manufacturing process – every time a product is made. WHO has established detailed guidelines for good manufacturing practice. Many countries have formulated their own requirements for GMP based on WHO GMP. Others have harmonized their requirements, for example in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), in the European Union and through the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention.
Is GMP necessary if there is a quality control laboratory?
Yes. Good quality must be built in during the manufacturing process; it cannot be tested into the product afterward. GMP prevents errors that cannot be eliminated through quality control of the finished product. Without GMP it is impossible to be sure that every unit of a medicine is of the same quality as the units of medicine tested in the laboratory
Costing of GMP: Can manufacturers afford to implement GMP?
Yes. Making poor quality products does not save money. In the long run, it is more expensive finding mistakes after they have been made than preventing them in the first place. GMP is designed to ensure that mistakes do not occur. Implementation of GMP is an investment in good quality medicines. This will improve the health of the individual patient and the community, as well as benefiting the pharmaceutical industry and health professionals. Making and distributing poor quality medicines leads to loss of credibility for everyone: both public and private healthcare and the manufacturer.
WHO works to strengthen GMP
WHO GMP guidelines are available online. If you require more information, please contact the WHO representative in your country, your WHO regional office or WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Benefits of WHO-GMP
- Initial Information
- Offer and Contract
- Stage 1 audit
- Stage 2 audit
- System Evaluation
- Surveillance audits
The process starts with the client’s needs and expectations. DQS wants to learn about the client’s organization, its management system, size and types of operation. Together both parties will define objectives for the assessment and/or certification, including applicable standards and specifications.
Offer and Contract
DQS will provide a detailed offer for assessment and certification services, tailored to individual client needs, based on the information provided initially. A written contract will specify all relevant deliverables as well as applicable assessment and certification criteria.
A pre-audit can serve as initial performance or gap analysis, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. For larger assessment and certification projects a project planning meeting provides a valuable opportunity for the client to meet the lead assessor and develop a customized assessment plan for all functions and locations involved. Both services are optional.
Stage 1 audit
The assessment procedure itself begins with review and evaluation of system documentation, goals, results of management review and internal audits. During this process, it will be determined whether the client’s management system is sufficiently developed and ready for certification. The assessor will explain findings and coordinate any required activities to prepare for the on-site system assessment.
Stage 2 audit
The assigned auditor team will audit the client’s management system at the place of production or service delivery. Applying defined management system standards and specifications, the assessment team will evaluate the effectiveness of all functional areas as well as all management system processes, based upon observations, inspections, interviews, review of pertinent records, and other assessment techniques. The audit result, including all findings will be presented to the client during the closing meeting. Required action plans will be agreed upon as necessary.
The independent certification function of DQS will evaluate the audit process and its results, and decide independently about issuance of the certificate. The client receives an audit report, documenting the audit results. When all applicable requirements are fulfilled the client also receives the certificate.
Either semi-annually or at least once per year, there will be an on-site audit of the critical components of the management system. Improvement potential will be identified, with a focus on continual improvement and sustained effectiveness.
A management system certificate is valid for a limited period of time, frequently for a maximum of three years. At the end of this cycle, a re-audit will be carried out to ensure the ongoing fulfillment of all applicable requirements. Subject to this fulfillment, a new certificate will be issued.
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