FDA Publishes Updated Biologics Guidance

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued final guidance (June 2021) for Biologics industry executives to help define modifications to existing products and update submission procedures.  The primary focus of the guidance is to help biologics industry employees responsible for reporting understand which type of risk category is appropriate for updated variations in chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC).


The guidance is applicable to CMC products with an existing biologics license application (BLA) currently approved by the FDA. It’s a critical update since any Biologics company or regulatory partners must notify the FDA about every change to an approved BLA under the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 601.12).

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FDA submission data


FDA Guidance

The final FDA guidance goes into detail about each post-approval change in the product, including production process, quality controls, equipment and facilities, responsible employees, and established labeling. Expanded submission data will potentially provide greater detail about the the risk profile related to the changes, and how revised changes impact the intended safety or efficacy of the product.


Assessing and implementing manufacturing changes is laid out in great detail in the FDA guidance. Comparability data will be used to show variations of the product pre- and post- changes. The comparability analysis is necessary to help gauge possible effects of the product changes. Data from the analysis will be represented through a variety of sources, including a combination of testing, validation studies, and non-clinical or clinical studies.


FDA submission procedure


More importantly, the guidance provides a greater amount of detail about the updated FDA submission procedure. A significant focus of the guidance acknowledges the opportunity for adverse effects and how to measure and minimize based on data about the revised formulation. The biologic submission must show reference information that considers the new identity, strength of the product, quality of the product, and purity or potency of the product.


The three unique types of Biologics reporting includes Prior Approval Supplement, Changes Being Effected in 30 Days/Changes Being Effected (CBE30/CBE) and an Annual Report:


Prior Approval Support (PAS)

  • This includes changes that have significant potential for an adverse effect on product quality. The PAS must be approved by the FDA before a Biologics company can distribute any updated BLA approved product to the market involving the changes.


Guidance Changes Being Effected in 30 Days/Changes Being Effected (CBE30/CBE)

  • This includes changes that have a moderate potential to have an adverse effect on product quality. The CBE30/CBE requires an applicant to report the change to the FDA in a supplement at least 30 days before distribution of the product to the market.


Annual Report (AR)

  • This includes changes that have a minimal potential to have an adverse effect on product quality.


FDA process validation


Assessing the impact of the change on product quality is critically important in the reporting submission.  Reporting data should include prior knowledge and findings from product development activity. Documentation surrounding process validation activities and manufacturing expertise of the approved BLA product are also requested.


Quality risk management activities or pre-commercial studies that provide expanded awareness of the effects of the changes can also be very valuable for FDA decision makers. Finally, a cumulative impact assessment of multiple changes on the updated BLA product can help ensure post-market surveillance activities are aligned between the FDA and Biologics company.


Quality Management System


References to a robust quality culture appear throughout the guidance, including developing of robust manufacturing processes and process controls. Innovative process validation techniques and analytical testing are listed as critical drivers Biologics companies should practice to help mitigate risks associated with manufacturing changes.


Having an effective quality risk management system allows Biologics industry executives to make knowledgeable choices regarding manufacturing variations. The quality system data increases the confidence of product quality and process consistency for both executives and the FDA. Formal and informal risk assessments to support of post-approval manufacturing changes increases the accuracy of a more effective assessment of the change, which can increase the speed of the FDA’s decision.


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