Schmitt: Quality agreements should include clarity in clearly defined terminology, roles and responsibilities, as well as a well-defined scope of the agreement. These documents are intended for project managers, operational staff and quality experts. In this context, the language of quality agreements should be appropriate for this audience and not written as a legal document. Quality agreements should also be drafted in the form of separate documents from commercial contracts, in order to maintain the flexibility to update and modify them if necessary. PharmTech: What are the mistakes made by pharmaceutical companies in the development of quality agreements? Schmitt: While many sponsors and contractors have a close business relationship, quality agreements add a compliance component. This helps to create more understanding needs for each party and builds trust. The possession of a written framework, which guides the relationship on both an operational and compliance basis, allows problems to be addressed at a level that is likely to be more cooperative and often eliminates the involvement of legal teams. Schmitt: While all FDA instructions need to be followed closely, one particular aspect of manufacturers` interest relates to « approval or refusal of any changes affecting product quality and cGMP compliance » (case 5 of the guidelines). Managing changes can be a challenge when a sponsor and contractor disagree. When this happens, the FDA guide clarifies the role and responsibilities of each party, allowing both groups to better address these challenges. In Europe, written quality agreements/contracts are mandatory under existing rules, namely EudraLex Volume 4, Part 1, Chapter 7 Outsourced Activities; Part II, paragraph 16, contract manufacturers (including laboratories); and III Pharmaceutical Quality System (International Harmonization Council Q10) point 2.7. Management of outsourced activities and purchased materials. PharmTech: What are the parts of the FDA`s guidelines on quality agreements published in November 2016 that manufacturers should monitor closely? Are there similar guidelines in Europe? Pharmaceutical Technology asked Siegfried Schmitt, Senior Advisor at PAREXEL, about the importance of quality agreements in the sponsor-contracting relationship.
PharmTech: How do quality agreements improve the overall quality of pharmaceuticals? Schmitt: Problems are more likely to arise when both parties are not properly coordinated, which can lead to a misunderstanding about expectations.