Quality by Design (QbD) Pilot Presents Industry With New Challenges

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Patrick Stone, President, TradeStone QA

What products will be affected by QbD? It will apply to new Marketing Authorization Applications (MAAs)/New Drug Applications (NDAs), Type II Variations/Prior-approval supplements (sNDA) and Scientific Advice requests/CMC formal meeting request that include QbD/PAT elements and are submitted to FDA & EU new applications, for MAAs/NDAs where the sponsor/applicant has agreed to a parallel evaluation by both agencies.

Upon request from the sponsor/applicant, and where procedural time-lines will allow, Type II Variations/NDAs may also be considered on a case by case basis. Right now this is a voluntary pilot with some pharma companies being tapped or nudged by FDA & EMA to join in.

Our geographically diverse health product market involves more contracting and outsourcing for many product components. Finished product real time testing and design space requirements will be crucial for implementing QbD.  ICH third party QA mandates will result from this pilot program.

QbD products will be as unique as the individuals who receive them (personalized medicine). This new model may impact two-thirds of the new health care products in the pipeline (cell therapies, gene therapies, and molecular entity therapy).   There will be many approaches to high order characterization and some are not cost effective at present.  Many of the details will take years to sort out. Collaborations between the FDA, Japan Ministry of Health, and  European Medicines agency will require funding along with mutual scientific trust.

Emerging technologies and laboratory techniques will be required to accomplish the QbD paradigm shift. FDA can’t continue using the chemistry approval model for biotechnology products.  This paradigm shift may increase development times and cost structures.  The ICH model will also bring mandatory third party QA review so prepare your models for this as well.

Here are the essential points to focus on for QbD products:

  1. Target the product profile,
  2. Determine CQAs (Critical Quality Attributes),
  3. Link raw material attributes and process parameters to CQAs,
  4. Risk assessment,
  5. Develop a design space,
  6. Design and implement a control strategy.

Generic Drug TabletThe biotechnology sector QbD product development focus will be on design space and real time release testing. The pilot discussion focus for both regulatory agencies will be on ensuring consistent implementation of ICH Q8, Q9, and Q10 guidelines in the assessment process and to facilitate sharing of regulatory discretion & new regulatory concepts manufacturers of small-molecule generic drugs have concerns the initial lag-time in course correcting for the QbD initiative may exponentially delay the application file time for their products.

It appears some generic-drug manufacturers are not willing to implement any QbD concepts until closer to final harmonization and discussion time frames.

Why do you need higher order structure modeling?  Higher order structure product applicants will have to provide protein folding kinetics models with characterization integration into the application and annual report.  Your research models and early development modeling may be progressed for this function. Personalized medicine with batch to batch consistency including stability of 1-90 days is recommended. There are also talking points about including variants and aggregates of your products in the higher order structure models.  Intra and inter chain disulfide bonding, aggregation, and complete polypeptide modeling may be requested application material.

This may prove to be more cost effective while two juggernauts (FDA & EMA) iron out the red tape that will flow from this type of global initiative.  If the funds necessary to make this effort progress are not available on the FDA or EMA, side delays in the process are inevitable.

Molecular and personalized medicine can’t continue to be reviewed with the FDA chemical entity systems approach, approval model.   Effective cancer therapies and molecular medicine may not have the statistical significance necessary when only a handful of patients are treated with the cell or gene therapy.

Warning to Industry: FDA will obviously not let you have your cake and eat it too.  Innovate inevitable change by comments to FDA or accept the QbD change that is inevitable.   Your comments to the FDA will be monitored on the FDA’s Facebook page and current open comment requests. Contact your respective FDA liaison or center contact for discussion points directly related to your product.

Patrick Stone is the author of Bubble Gum Badge – An FDA His-Story. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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