USP Plans Standards on Good Distribution Practices
Today, it is common for pharmaceutical products to be sourced in a complex maze of processing and handling throughout the course of manufacturing, storage, and distribution--all against a global supply-chain backdrop. Before a product even reaches the patient, it is likely that multiple ingredient manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors from different parts of the world have had a hand in making, storing, and handling the finished drug product. Multiply this complex chain of events by the number of available drugs and countries involved in both producing and consuming medicines and the vulnerable areas within the global pharmaceutical supply chain become quite evident. In response to the rapid transformations taking place in the global pharmaceutical supply chain, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is developing and revising standards to aid manufacturers, transportation providers, and other stakeholders to deal with many of these complex issues.
USP’s proposed suite of general chapters
The general chapters will address four key areas, highlighting key principles as well as practices related to good distribution:
This chapter also addresses cold-chain products, for which many well-established robust temperature monitoring systems are available. Measures such as packaging systems with dry ice and containers with active cooling systems are often employed to help ensure product quality throughout the course of distribution and many regulations currently exist that specifically address shipment of cold-chain products.
Aligned with its current thinking about the role that environmental control management plays in product quality, USP is also proposing a change in its definition of “controlled-room temperature.” USP’s current temperature range for a usual and customary working environment is 20 to 25 °C. In a stimuli article in the November-December 2013 issue of PF, USP proposes the expansion of this range to 8 to 30 °C. In part, the motivation for this change is to encourage companies to put broader temperature ranges on product labels, allowing for greater flexibility in how products are distributed. The appropriateness of expanding the temperature range for a product is based on stability data that have been generated on the product.
Public comments on USP proposed standards
Desmond Hunt, PhD, is senior scientific liaison, General Chapters, US Pharmacopeial Convention, email@example.com.