Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

Good manufacturing practices (GMP) are the practices required in order to conform to guidelines laid down by agencies which control authorization and licensing for manufacture and sale of food, drug products, and active pharmaceutical products.

These guidelines are laid down with the intention of providing minimum requirements that a pharmaceutical or a food product manufacturer must meet while manufacturing drugs or food products, which then assures that the products manufactured/produced are of high quality and do not pose any risk to the consumer or public. Good manufacturing practice guidelines provides guidance for manufacturing, testing, and quality assurance in order to ensure that drug product is safe for human consumption.

Many countries have legislated that pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer must follow GMP procedures, and have created their own GMP guidelines that correspond with their legislation. Basic concepts of all of these guidelines remain more or less similar to the ultimate goals of safeguarding the health of patient as well as producing good quality medicine, medical devices or active pharmaceutical products.
In the U.S.A a drug may be deemed adulterated even though it has passed all of the specifications tests and it is found to be manufactured in a facility or condition which violates or do not comply with current good manufacturing guideline. Therefore complying with GMP is a mandatory aspect in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Although there are a number of them, all guidelines follow a few basic principles:

Hygiene: Pharmaceutical manufacturing facility must maintain a clean and hygienic manufacturing area.
Controlled environmental conditions in order to prevent cross contamination of drug product from other drug or extraneous particulate matter, which may render the drug product unsafe for human consumption.
Manufacturing processes are clearly defined and controlled. All critical processes are validated to ensure consistency and compliance with specifications.
Manufacturing processes are controlled, and any changes to the process are evaluated. Changes that have an impact on the quality of the drug are validated as necessary.
Instructions and procedures are written in clear and unambiguous language. (Good Documentation Practices)
Operators are trained to carry out and document procedures.
Records are made, manually or by instruments, during manufacture that demonstrate that all the steps required by the defined procedures and instructions were in fact taken and that the quantity and quality of the drug was as expected.
Deviations are investigated and documented.
Records of manufacture (including distribution) that enable the complete history of a batch to be traced are retained in a comprehensible and accessible form.
The distribution of the drugs minimizes any risk to their quality.
A system is available for recalling any batch of drug from sale or supply.
Complaints about marketed drugs are examined, the causes of quality defects are investigated, and appropriate measures are taken with respect to the defective drugs and to prevent recurrence.

GMP guidelines are not prescriptive instructions on how to manufacture products. They are a series of general principles that must be observed during manufacturing. When a company is setting up its quality program and manufacturing process, there may be many ways it can fulfill GMP requirements. It is the company’s responsibility to determine the most effective and efficient quality process.

(GMP Question and Answers)

Why is GMP important?
Poor quality medicines are not only a health hazard, but a waste of money for both governments and individual consumers.

Poor quality medicines can damage health
A poor quality medicine may contain toxic substances that have been unintentionally added.
A medicine that contains little or none of the claimed ingredient will not have the intended therapeutic effect.

GMP helps boost pharmaceutical export opportunities
Most countries will only accept import and sale of medicines that have been manufactured to internationally recognized GMP. Governments seeking to promote their countries’ export of pharmaceuticals can do so by making GMP mandatory for all pharmaceutical production and by training their inspectors in GMP requirements.

What is GMP?
Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. It is designed to minimize the risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product. The main risks are: unexpected contamination of products, causing damage to health or even death; incorrect labels on containers, which could mean that patients receive the wrong medicine; insufficient or too much active ingredient, resulting in ineffective treatment or adverse effects. GMP covers all aspects of production; from the starting materials, premises and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of staff. Detailed, written procedures are essential for each process that could affect the quality of the finished product. There must be systems to provide documented proof that correct procedures are consistently followed at each step in the manufacturing process – every time a product is made. WHO has established detailed guidelines for good manufacturing practice. Many countries have formulated their own requirements for GMP based on WHO GMP. Others have harmonized their requirements, for example in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), in the European Union and through the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention.

Is GMP necessary if there is a quality control laboratory?
Yes. Good quality must be built in during the manufacturing process; it cannot be tested into the product afterwards. GMP prevents errors that cannot be eliminated through quality control of the finished product. Without GMP it is impossible to be sure that every unit of a medicine is of the same quality as the units of medicine tested in the laboratory.

Can manufacturers afford to implement GMP?
Yes. Making poor quality products does not save money. In the long run, it is more expensive finding mistakes after they have been made than preventing them in the first place. GMP is designed to ensure that mistakes do not occur. Implementation of GMP is an investment in good quality medicines. This will improve the health of the individual patient and the community, as well as benefiting the pharmaceutical industry and health professionals. Making and distributing poor quality medicines leads to loss of credibility for everyone: both public and private health care and the manufacturer.
WHO works to strengthen GMP

WHO GMP guidelines are available online. If you require more information, please contact the WHO representative in your country, your WHO regional office or WHO headquarters in Geneva.

**Information on this page was provided by the WHO.