EPiC Top Tips – Self-Inspection

 “Mind the Gap” – 5 Top Tips for Improved Self-Inspection

Article By Michelle Yeomans Operations Manager for EPiC Auditors Limited

During our time as MHRA Inspectors and now as pharmaceutical consultants, at EPiC we routinely see non-compliant sites i.e., those referred to MHRA’s Inspection Action Group (IAG) with a series of self-inspection reports indicating a high level of compliance. This begs the question why do some self-inspection programmes fail to adequately appraise the effectiveness and applicability of pharmaceutical quality systems (PQS)? 

Here are our top tips on how to avoid gaps between self-inspection and regulators findings: 

  1. Remember why you are performing self-inspections Self-inspections are often not taken as seriously as regulatory inspections, but ultimately have the same objective to protect patients and product quality. Self-inspections can help identify and address deficiencies to support maintaining an “inspection ready” status by providing confidence that you as a licence holder are meeting your legal obligations to comply with EU GMP and GDP requirements.   
  1. Self-inspection perception – Unless sufficient time and resources are allocated to self-inspection, programmes can become too informal and rushed. Taking the time to objectively evaluate a process, facility, or document should be seen as value adding by providing an opportunity to gather information about compliance and is a way for Senior management including QPs/RPs to have oversight of the performance of all areas of the business.​ 
  1. Self-inspection focus – Consider whether audits should be horizontal audits i.e., follow the process flow from goods receipt to product release for example or be focussed on just one area of the process.​ Use a risk-based approach by researching the most common deficiencies found during inspections and audits e.g., consider examples which are published by MHRA, or featured in EPiC Seminar presentations, to ensure “hot topics” are include as an area of focus during the audit. Identify the high-risk areas of the process which will require more of your attention. This can be done by looking at the past performance of the area – deviations, change controls, previous audit findings etc​. 
  1. Invest in Auditor training – Audits drive big decisions such as capex, awarding contracts, supplier approval, compliance level assessment, etc. so it is important auditors are trained. This includes having an understanding and ability to apply a broad range of softer behavioural and questioning skills, follow good practice guidance on the principles of auditing, and can demonstrate an understanding of the applicable GXP rules and regulations. 
  1. Post audit activity – It’s not all about performing the audit, it is equally important to maintain a focus on CAPA completion and ongoing effectiveness checks. Successful completion of CAPA is integral to achieving the objective to protect patient and product quality and drives sustainable compliance. 

By following these 5 tips, you can improve the effectiveness of self-inspections, ensure that the PQS is continuously improving and “mind the gap” between self-inspection and regulatory findings! 

Get in touch if you what to know more about our bespoke inhouse training course on effective and value adding self-inspection and how we train auditors.  

Call to speak to one of our pharmaceutical consultants: +44 (0)1244 980544 or email us atenquiries@epic-auditors.com