Word to the Wise (Drug Manufacturer): Don’t Use Your Manufacturing Equipment to Produce Toxic, Non-Pharmaceutical Products

August 8, 2017By Mark I. Schwartz

This was FDA’s recent admonition to ChemRite CoPac, Inc. (ChemRite), in a Warning Letter issued on June 29, 2017. Apparently the manufacturer of several over-the-counter oral rinses and oral moisturizing drug products uses the same equipment to manufacture numerous non-pharmaceutical materials, including an industrial car care product.

The letter stated in part that: “[t]his car care product is paraffin-based and labeled as ‘Harmful or fatal if swallowed’ and ‘Keep out of reach of children.’ You also manufacture other toxic non-pharmaceutical industrial and automotive care products, such as leather treatments…Leather Care,…Leather Lotion and sealants…, using the same mixing tank and filling line you use for OTC oral drug products.”

“The ingredients in your non-pharmaceutical products are extremely difficult to remove from manufacturing equipment, and could contaminate the drug products that you manufacture on shared equipment, such as the various oral solutions discussed above. It is unacceptable as a matter of CGMP to continue manufacturing drugs using the same equipment that you use to manufacture toxic industrial-grade car care products.”

So, to summarize, FDA is alleging that ChemRite has violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) because: (a) the facility manufacturers non-pharmaceuticals on the same manufacturing equipment as it is manufacturing OTC drug products; (b) the non-pharmaceuticals (industrial and automotive care products) are toxic; and (c) the ingredients in these toxic products are extremely difficult to remove from the dual use manufacturing equipment.

This leads to some inevitable questions, such as: whether FDA would allege a violation of the FDCA if only the first two conditions had occurred but not the third, or if only the first condition had occurred. In other words, does the FDA believe that the FDCA forbids the manufacture of non-pharmaceuticals on pharmaceutical equipment regardless of whether or not the non-pharmaceuticals manufactured are toxic to humans? If so, what is the regulatory basis for this claim?

One also has to wonder how FDA would respond if ChemRite provided the agency with data that showed in a validated way not only that their dual use manufacturing equipment could be thoroughly cleaned without leaving a residue, but that in fact the equipment had been thoroughly cleaned prior to each of the lots of drug product manufactured on this equipment, without leaving any residue from the non-pharmaceutical manufacturing.

We probably won’t have answers to these questions anytime soon, but rest assured that when we do we will report them to our readers.