Pharmaceutical Data Integrity: issues, challenges and proposed solutions for manufacturers and inspectors

Data Integrity, which is data deemed Attributable, Legible, Contemporaneous, Original, Accurate, Complete, Consistent, Enduring, and Available (ALCOA-plus), has been the focus of the pharmaceutical industry in recent years. With the growing use of computerized systems and rising prevalence of outsourcing manufacturing processes, ensuring data integrity is becoming more challenging in an increasingly complex pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. To address this issue, multiple legislation and guidance documents such as ‘Data Integrity and Compliance with CGMP Guidance for Industry’ from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ‘GxP’ Data Integrity Guidance and Definitions from the United Kingdom Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and Guidance on Good Data and Record Management Practices from the World Health Organization”, have been published in recent years. However, with rising data integrity issues observed by FDA, WHO, MHRA and other pharmaceutical inspectors even after these guidance documents have been published, their overall effectiveness is yet to be determined.

This paper compares and evaluates the legislation and guidance currently in existence; and discusses some of the potential challenges pharmaceutical manufacturers face in maintaining data integrity with such legislation and guidance in place. It appears that these legislation and guidance are insufficient in maintaining data integrity in the industry when used alone. Last, but not least, this paper also reviews other solutions, such as the need for a company culture of integrity, a good database management system, education and training, robust quality agreements between contract givers and acceptors, and performance of effective audits and inspections, to aid in maintaining data integrity in the manufacturing industry. These proposed solutions, if successfully implemented, can address the issues associated with data integrity, and raise the standard of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturing worldwide.

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