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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2002 Volume XVI, No V

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently an-nounced that it is undertaking a significant new initiative to enhance the regulation of pharmaceutical manufacturing and product quality and to bring a 21st century focus to this FDA responsibility.

The initiative focuses on FDA's current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) program and will cover veterinary and human drugs, including human biological drug products such as vaccines.

"Americans expect that their medicines will be of the highest quality, and assuring that quality is one of FDA's core missions," said FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Lester M. Crawford. "FDA's regulatory and quality control systems for pharmaceutical products have become a gold standard for the world, and we Americans should be proud that the quality of the medicines we have available to us and our animals is second to none. Any system can be improved upon, however, and with this risk-based, highly integrative cGMP initiative we intend to do just that. We know we can make even a very good system better."

This initiative is designed to improve public health promotion and protection by focusing on three major goals that will augment FDA's pharmaceutical product quality assurance programs across the board.

The first goal will be to enhance the focus of the agency's cGMP requirements more squarely on potential risks to public health, by providing additional regulatory attention and agency resources on those aspects of manufacturing that pose the greatest potential risk.

The second goal will be to help ensure that FDA's essential work in establishing and enforcing pharmaceutical product quality standards does not impede innovation and the introduction of new manufacturing technologies in the pharmaceutical industry.

The third goal will be enhancing the consistency and predictability of FDA's approach to assuring production quality and safety among the FDA's centers and field components.

FDA cannot accomplish these goals alone. Given the global nature of pharmaceutical production today, FDA fully intends to undertake this initiative in close concert and consultation with its regulatory counterparts internationally. In addition, the success of this initiative is strongly dependent on active participation and input from manufacturing quality control experts from industry, academia, government, and consumer groups, and FDA will be actively soliciting such participation as the initiative progresses.

More than 40 years ago, Congress instructed FDA to require that all drugs be produced according to current good manufacturing practice. This requirement came in response to significant concerns about substandard drug manufacturing practices at that time, and it brought modern quality assurance and control principles to drug manufacturing.

In announcing this cGMP initiative, Dr. Crawford emphasized that it will be overseen by a steering committee that includes representatives from all the affected FDA centers: the Office of Regulatory Affairs, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the Office of the Commissioner. He noted in addition that this task will be driven by the latest science and technology and will strengthen the public health protection achieved by FDA's regulation of pharmaceutical manufacturing. He added that FDA remains committed to strong enforcement of the existing regulatory requirements, even as we are examining and revising our approach to these programs. He also pointed out that this work may take time-potentially up to two years, or more, for certain aspects of this initiative.