It must be that time again when conference planners rack their brains on how to bolster dwindling attendance, because several have contacted me through this blog to ask my opinion on major trends in the pharmaceutical industry.

So with this edition I offer my opinion not only to those conference planners, but also to my readers. After all, why should you—my loyal readers—have to attend a pricey conference to hear what I told them? But first, a note about—well, these pricey pharmaceutical conferences.

There are certainly worthwhile conferences in the pharma industry, but you really have to consider whether they are worth it. I have always thought that the best conferences were those with a strong FDA presence on the speaker roster. However, FDA speaker materials eventually become accessible to the general public. So, shortly thereafter, you can Google the name of the FDA speaker you saw in the pre-conference e-brochure and bingo. If it’s content you’re after, why not use your favorite search engine?

The worst conferences of them all are those that recycle the same industry consultants. But I’ll save that subject for another time.

So—now to the subject at hand: current pharmaceutical industry CGMP compliance trends. Here are the top three, in my opinion:

1.  There is an emboldened FDA intent on measuring up under a keenly interested Congress. There are sixteen (16) major pharma consent decrees dating from 1989 to 2010. What do they all have in common? No, it’s actually not bodies in the street. It’s cGMP violations. Of these, only six (6) consent decrees have been vacated.

  • Eric Blumberg, FDA Chief Deputy Counsel for Litigation, has been saying for the last ten (10) years that the FDA cannot expect progress until individuals are criminally charged. We’re starting to see that now. (Enter stage left: KV’s Marc Herelin, InterMune’s W. Scott Harkonen, Forrest’s Solomon, Glaxo’s Lauren Stevens.)
  • Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner, said that the FDA will no longer issue multiple Warning Letters. Criteria have been developed for selecting cases for criminal prosecution of individuals

2.  When there are repeated observations, the FDA questions the willingness and ability of the Quality Unit to exercise its responsibility.

  • Repeated FDA 483 observations are considered a failure of the Quality Unit, as stated in numerous Warning Letters.
  • Warning Letter language recognizes that Quality Unit failure may be attributed to either an unwillingness to exercise its responsibility, or an inability due to lack of independence.
  • Recent high-profile cases have ineffective quality units in common

3.  FDA expects the global deployment of the Quality Management System and oversight by corporate management.

  • Corporations are expected to have oversight of the quality and regulatory compliance of their operating units.
  • Some companies have “flattened” their organizations into non-compliance and lack of oversight upon the questionable advice of efficiency and cost-reduction experts.
  • The Parke Doctrine holds management responsible although they may not have been directly involved or aware of violative conditions. Some of these individuals have appeared before Congress.

Now, here’s the funny thing. One conference planner asked if this anonymous blogger would agree to be a speaker. (um, what part of “anonymous” didn’t they understand?)

Perhaps I could make it work? Perhaps a backlit screen projecting my trademark silhouette?

republished and adapted from the QA Pharm