WHO TRS (Technical Report Series) 981, 2013 Annex 2


WHO TRS (Technical Report Series) 981, 2013 Annex 2

WHO guidelines on quality risk management

1. Introduction:

1.1 Background and scope:

In most countries compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMP) (1, 2) (including validation), medicines regulatory activities and inspections, together with supply chain controls throughout the product life-cycle, provide good assurance that risks are largely controlled. However, where control is less effective, patients may be put at risk through the production of medicines of inadequate quality. The assessment of individual risks related to specific products and starting materials and the recognition of hazards at specific stages of production or distribution should permit regulatory authorities to improve control of medicines by increasing the effectiveness of their activities within the limits of the available resources. Quality risk management (QRM) is a process that is relevant to all countries and should provide a rationale to understand risk and mitigate it through appropriate and robust controls. 

The aim of these guidelines is to assist the development and implementation of effective QRM, covering activities such as research and development, sourcing of materials, manufacturing, packaging, testing, storage and distribution. In the past, hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) methodology, traditionally a food safety management system but subsequently applied to other industries, has been the basis of WHO risk management guidance to the pharmaceutical industry (3).

More recently international guidance has emerged (2, 4–7) that is of specific relevance to the pharmaceutical industry and which addresses the full scope of pharmaceutical industry QRM more effectively than HACCP principles, including how to structure regulatory filings using a risk-based approach. Consequently, these WHO guidelines have been developed as an update on WHO's advice to the pharmaceutical industry, taking account of this new guidance.

To protect patients in terms of quality, safety and efficacy of medicines, international medicines regulatory authorities (MRAs) are recommending pharmaceutical manufacturers to adopt a risk-based approach to the life-cycle of a pharmaceutical product. Some MRAs require the adoption of a risk-based approach for specific areas in the life-cycle of a pharmaceutical product, e.g. environmental monitoring in sterile products manufacture. The level of QRM activity and the density of associated documentation will evolve as the product progresses from early development through to routine production.

QRM is the overall and continuing process of appropriately managing risks to product quality throughout the product's life-cycle in order to optimize its benefit–risk balance. It is a systematic process for the assessment, control, communication and review of risks to the quality of the medicinal product. It can be applied both proactively and retrospectively.

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Table of contents

WHO TRS (Technical Report Series) 981, 2013 Annex 2:

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