FDA Expands Virtual Audit Guidance

FDA Expands Virtual Audit Guidance

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently expanded on its clarification of a virtual audit, and how new manufacturing protocols in the COVID-19 environment will evolve. Travel constraints continue to impact the industry, especially in countries like India where a tremendous outbreak of COVID cases erupted in April 2021.


“This does show that indeed, we are very much interested in doing these remote interactive investigations, you know, especially the ones with video streaming technology.” said Michael Kopcha, director of the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality in the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Looking for help preparing for the new guidance? Contact Us Now →

After reviewing recommendations from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory products Agency (UK MHRA), the FDA continues to address the questions many pharmaceutical companies and partners have voiced during the pandemic. FDA officials commented that, due to these early learnings from other global regulatory bodies, they have recently expanded their recommendations for virtual audit best practices and new criteria of considering when to conduct a remote inspection.


Two of the initial primary use cases for virtual pharmaceutical inspections mentioned by the FDA include records requests and on-site inspectional work. While developing the new virtual audit process is still ongoing, one recommendation is Pharmaceutical companies should choose a proven regulatory partner to assist with the audit. Agency executives explained they will not be engaging vendors to perform virtual audits on behalf of the FDA.

virtual audit


One looming issue to be remedied is will virtual audits be allowed for facilities with serious good manufacturing practice (GMP) violations. FDA officials have expanded on their risk-based approach to prioritization in deciding which sites may qualify. An expanded virtual audit strategy continues to be a work-in-progress by agency officials including defining which companies qualify for an FDA virtual inspection and, more importantly, in what order the virtual audits may happen.


GMP violations involve either FDA warning letters or action-indicated site classifications based on the possible corrective actions needed. If the corrective actions needed for a facility can be successfully addressed remotely, it may become more likely that the number of hybrid virtual inspections authorized by the FDA will continue to grow. However, agency official commentary concluded that each facility will be examined by the FDA team on an individual basis with consideration of potential violations involved being a primary decision-making driver.


The good news for Pharmaceutical industry executives is it appears the FDA is willing to learn from international regulatory experiences and potentially even collaborate using technology in new ways to increase the FDA’s ability to continue operations. Global travel limitations will more than likely impact every industry for the foreseeable future in 2021 until the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely administered.


About RCA’s Pharmaceutical Consulting Services 


Regulatory Compliance Associates (RCA) has helped thousands of pharmaceutical companies meet regulatory, compliance, quality assurance, and remediation challenges. With more than 20 years of experience with FDA, Health Canada, EU and global regulatory agencies worldwide, Regulatory Compliance Associates® offers leading pharmaceutical consultants. We’re one of the few pharma consulting companies that can help you navigate the challenges associated with industry regulations.


Our pharmaceutical consulting firm includes over 500 seasoned FDA, Health Canada & EU compliance consultants and regulatory affairs experts who understand industry complexities. It’s a pharma consultancy founded by regulatory compliance executives from the pharmaceutical industry. Every pharmaceutical industry consultant on the Regulatory Compliance Associates team knows the unique inner workings of the regulatory process. 


Client Solutions


Whether you’re in the product planning, development or pharmaceutical lifecycle management stage or need a remediation strategy for a compliance crisis, Regulatory Compliance Associates will guide you through every pharma consulting step of the regulatory process and create a customized approach depending on your product and your pharma company’s individual needs. Our regulatory compliance clients include:


  • Companies new to FDA, Health Canada or EU regulations and the pharmaceutical industry
  • Start-up organizations with novel submissions to 510(k) submissions from multi-national corporations
  • Investment firms seeking private equity due diligence for pre-acquisition and post-deal research
  • Law firms seeking pharmaceutical consulting firm expertise in the remediation of warning letters, consent decrees, 483’s or import bans


Regulatory Affairs


Regulatory affairs is Regulatory Compliance Associates backbone. We exceed other pharma consulting companies with industry experts experienced in complexities of the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. Our pharma consulting expertise spans all facets and levels of Regulatory Affairs, from Regulatory Support for New Products to Life Cycle Management, to other services like Outsourced Regulatory Affairs, Submissions, Training, and more.


As your partner, we can negotiate the potential assessment minefield of pharmaceuticals with insight, hindsight, and the clear advantage of our breadth and depth of knowledge and regulatory compliance experience. We offer the following pharma consulting regulatory affairs services for pharmaceutical companies.


  • New Product Support
  • Product Lifecycle
  • Other Regulatory Services


Compliance Assurance


The regulations process surrounding pharmaceutical companies can be tricky for even the most experienced industry veteran to understand. Just one misstep could mean significant and lasting consequences for your business. At Regulatory Compliance Associates, we offer the pharma consulting experience and pharma consultants necessary to guide you through the quality compliance process.


  • Compliance Enforcement
  • Assessments
  • Audits
  • Regulatory Agency Response
  • Preparation and Training
  • Inspection Readiness


Quality Assurance


Regulatory Compliance Associates Quality consulting includes assessments, strategy, implementations, staff augmentations, and identification of quality metrics to ensure continuous improvement. Our pharma consultants understand the strategic thinking needed to align your business needs and goals. Regulatory Compliance Associates pharmaceutical industry consultants are quality experts with experience spanning major corporations and start-ups. Our pharmaceutical consulting firm knows firsthand how to achieve, maintain, and improve quality, and we excel in transferring pharma consulting knowledge to your organization.


  • 21 CFR Part 11
  • Data Integrity
  • Manufacturing Support
  • Facility Support


Remediation Services 


Regulatory Compliance Associates has significant experience and a proven remediation services approach to managing FDA Warning Letters, Consent Decrees, and other serious regulatory situations. Our pharma consultants know how to partner with executive, legal, and communication teams, and will assist management with a response that will be accepted by the regulatory agency and be realistic to execute. Regulatory Compliance Associates pharma regulatory consultants will develop a comprehensive proof book of documented evidence demonstrating the corrective action taken to remediate non-compliant issues.


In addition, each Regulatory Compliance Associates pharmaceutical industry consultant understands compliance enforcement. We’ll prepare a comprehensive pharma consulting strategy to assist in your remediation efforts, drive continuous improvement, and maintain regulatory compliance with the regulations.


  • Regulatory Action
  • Warning Letter
  • 483 Observation
  • Oversight Services


About Regulatory Compliance Associates


pharmaceutical consultantsRegulatory Compliance Associates® (RCA) provides pharmaceutical consulting to the following industries for resolution of life science challenges:



We understand the complexities of running a life science business and possess areas of expertise that include every facet of R&D, operations, regulatory affairs, quality, and manufacturing. We are used to working on the front lines and thriving in the scrutiny of FDA, Health Canada, MHRA and globally-regulated companies.


As your partners, we can negotiate the potential minefield of regulatory compliance and regulatory due diligence with insight, hindsight, and the clear advantage of our unique expertise and experience.


  • Founded in 2000
  • Headquartered in Wisconsin (USA)
  • Expertise backed by over 500 industry subject matter experts
  • Acquired by Sotera Health in 2021


About Sotera Health


The name Sotera Health was inspired by Soteria, the Greek goddess of safety, and reflects the Company’s unwavering commitment to its mission, Safeguarding Global Health®.


Sotera Health Company, along with its three best-in-class businesses – Sterigenics®Nordion® and Nelson Labs®, is a leading global provider of mission-critical end-to-end sterilization solutions and lab testing and advisory services for the healthcare industry. With a combined tenure across our businesses of nearly 200 years and our industry-recognized scientific and technological expertise, we help to ensure the safety of over 190 million patients and healthcare practitioners around the world every year.


We are a trusted partner to more than 5,800 customers in over 50 countries, including 40 of the top 50 medical device companies and 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies.



To begin the Regulatory Compliance Associates scoping process today, please enter your information in the blue form below and click the submit button at the bottom of the webpage. 


Commitment to Quality

Our Certificate of Registration demonstrates that our Quality Management System meets the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, an internationally recognized standard of quality.

Our website uses cookies to give you the best possible experience.

By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.