Over the past several years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has focused its attention on compliance issues related to the dietary supplement industry, generally, and on current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs), in particular. Indeed, we have seen an increase in the issuance of 483s and warning letters to Private Label Distributors (PLD) for failing to have adequate standard operating procedures related to cGMPs.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) prohibits a person from introducing or delivering for introduction, or causing the delivery or introduction, into interstate commerce a dietary supplement that is adulterated for failure to comply with dietary supplement cGMP requirements (FFDCA § 402(g)). The cGMP regulations are located in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 111.
To be clear, a PLD is ultimately responsible for products introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce carrying its name and must ensure that the company and products are in compliance with all FFDCA requirements and pertinent regulations. Therefore, along with establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) the PLD must implement directly, it must also develop oversight SOPs to ensure its contract manufacturing and fulfillment companies are in compliance.
The cGMP regulations provide for broad and general requirements. To the extent that these regulations apply to the PLD, step-by-step how-to instructions and detailed explanations must be identified in the SOPs to implement the cGMP requirement. Below is a broad outline of both the direct and oversight SOPs that a PLD must develop.
As indicated, the agency has issued several warning letters emphasizing the importance of oversight SOPs for dietary supplement cGMPs. The letters stated that a dietary supplement distributor using contract manufacturers or labelers may be liable for cGMP violations by its contractors, explicitly noting that “‘agents vested with the responsibility, and power commensurate with that responsibility, to devise whatever means necessary to ensure compliance with the [FFDCA]’ can be held accountable for violations of the [FFDCA].”
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