What are FDA’s requirements for labeling investigational drug and biological products (IP)? We are all aware of the required statement in 21 CFR 312.6, “(a) The immediate package of an investigational new drug intended for human use shall bear a label with the statement ‘Caution: New Drug–Limited by Federal (or United States) law to investigational use.’” However, is that the only requirement? What else, if anything, belongs? What labeling is against FDA requirements? Is this a GCP or GMP issue? This question came up recently in a discussion with a colleague. It was their opinion that an expiry date was not required. They had stability records for the IP and could show that the expiration date exceeded the length of the trial. Is this sufficient? I disagreed. I felt that the IP labeling should include a lot/batch number and the expiry date.
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FDA regulations for investigational new drugs tell us little about what goes on to an IP label. However, we know that IP must be manufactured under the GMPs. Just what do the GMP regulations say about labels? We can find it in § 211.137, Expiration Dating. It states in 211.137(g):
“(g) New drug products for investigational use are exempt from the requirements of this section, provided that they meet appropriate standards or specifications as demonstrated by stability studies during their use in clinical investigations. Where new drug products for investigational use are to be reconstituted at the time of dispensing, their labeling shall bear expiration information for the reconstituted drug product.”It is clear that my colleague is correct. FDA does not require expiration dates if the IP meets the standards and/or specifications in stability studies. I don’t like making mistakes, but “the proof is in the pudding.” This is a very specific regulation that is easy for all of us to interpret. I would have appreciated it if FDA had referenced this in the IND regulation, §312. That is where most GCP professionals go to look for FDA’s GCP requirements. However, FDA frequently doesn’t appreciate what I appreciate, so we find the information in §211.
The second point that this regulation makes is very interesting. More and more drug products require very specific instructions on how to administer the drug or IP. A reconstituted test article can have a very short time period for dispensing. This regulation is equally clear that “their labeling shall bear expiration information for the reconstituted drug product.”
This can add up to a lot of information. Expiration information for a reconstituted drug product, storage temperatures and conditions, and adequate directions for dispensing the IP are all essential information for a label. How in the world do you fit it on one small container? For this, you need to understand FDA’s definition of “label.”
In conducting your clinical research program your ultimate goal is to attain a “label.” This is the physician’s insert that informs the clinician, among many other things, “adequate instructions for use.” Vials of parenterals are usually packaged and the packaging contains essential information that is also considered labeling.In addition, the handy “informational sheets” that some nutritional supplement or “neutraceutical” dealers keep under the counter at their stores and are given out to answer question from consumers also meet FDA’s definition of labeling. So when they hand you an informational brochure saying that “many studies find” that patchouli oil cures arthritis, yes that can be part of the label. Chances are that FDA would probably find it to be false and misleading.
That means you should have plenty of room for this information on the IP labeling. Referencing it on protocol-specific worksheets that the clinical site may, or may not, use for recording source data is not sufficient. The information needs to be part of the labeling or clearly stated in the protocol. It can also be part of pharmacy manual that is referenced in the protocol. The information needs to be readily available and part of the pre-study training that the sponsor documents before enrollment of subjects.Finally, a European employee of the company my colleague works at informed me that it is an EMA requirement to include the expiry date. However, she had heard that in the U.S. there was no requirement, which she found strange. I find it strange as well. It is my viewpoint that in an era of globalized trials, we should aim for the highest standard. And harmonizing label requirements, when possible, will help the company develop a systematic approach to GCP compliance.
My personal opinion is that expiration dating is essential information for “adequate directions for use,” as required by Section 502 of the FD&C Act. I agree with EMA that the expiry date should be part of the label. However, I live in Tacoma, WA, not in Paris, Copenhagen, or Venice. So my personal opinion is just that, my personal opinion.
Carl Anderson, GxP Perspectives
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