What is GMP in India?
GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) is a set of legal guidelines that have been regulated by WHO (World Health Organization) since 1975. These aim to ensure that drugs and other pharmaceutical products are safe and effective. Since then, GMP has been considered a seal of quality for pharmaceutical products. Good Manufacturing Practices have been adopted by many countries worldwide and that includes India which is now the second largest producer of pharmaceutical products in the world.
Background of India’s Pharmaceutical Industry
In 1903 India had its first 5 pharmaceutical companies in operation. Among them were Bengal Chemicals, IDPL and Pharmaceutical Works which are still active in the industry. Nearly 110 years later, the number of pharmaceutical companies has increased to over 20,000. Many of these pharmaceutical companies are multinationals with headquarters in the US and Europe. Due to the boom in pharmaceutical companies, India has become increasingly active in the import-export of pharmaceutical products.
Back in the early 1960s, the government encouraged the growth of manufacturing pharmaceutical products and along with this growth was the emergence of Patent Act of 1970. This act aimed to oversee the quality of pharmaceutical products and to protect the consumers from adulterated products. During the 90’s under the leadership of Prime Minister Rao Pamulaparti the patent composition for food and drugs was scrapped. Multinational companies who were big players in the market then disliked this move due to the absence of patent protection. While this event caused the multinational companies to back out slowly, it became a door that opened up for the Indian companies who were slowly building their presence in the pharmaceutical industry.
Prior to the Patent Act of 1970, there was a Schedule M of India’s Drug & Cosmetics Act. This Act covered guidelines and regulations only on the pharmaceutical company’s location, buildings, equipment, safety and sanitation. Not covered in this Act were personnel’s qualifications, proper documentation and processes.
The advent of GMP requirements covered the gaps in Indias Drug & Cosmetic Act. These regulations are more comprehensive and cover in details personnel requirements and liabilities. Though the consolidation of Schedule M and GMP seemed promising in terms of assuring safe and quality products for the consumers, it was not immediately accepted. It has been put on hold in India three times since 2001 before it finally came into fruition and was officially accepted after the first half of the year 2005. The long delay occurred when the pharmaceutical industry appealed to be given more time to prepare themselves to the new set of pharmaceutical industry guidelines.
Schedule M and GMP Harmonization
The amendment of Schedule M which is in consolidation with GMP is more lenient compared with what the US and EU require. However, it is interesting to note that pharmaceutical companies which export products could comply with the UK standards. Although it has been some years from the time that this harmonization was implemented, the small and medium size enterprises are still in the process of adopting GMPs. They are even asking to make the existing GMP more relaxed. The pharmaceutical manufacturers lobbied compelling the Indian administration to have a committee to ascertain whether or not the Schedule M regulations were harmful to the small players in the pharmaceutical industry. After 2 years of thorough deliberation, the committee headed by Dr. Namja Heptulla recommended that the Indian administration should be considerate of the plight of the small and medium size enterprises. The committee noted that small pharmaceutical units might be shutdown in some states and it recognized the possibility that the amendment might favor the multinational companies and the big players in the industry. The Health Ministry of India contends that there are many small enterprises that adhere to the GMP requirement and many more are coming into compliance.
A Work in Progress
While the harmonization of GMP and Schedule M has not been accepted with open arms by the small players in the Indian pharmaceutical industry, the big players seemed to welcome the harmonization as it adds credibility to their products and thus increase their sales and production. Aside from meeting local GMP requirements, these big players are seeking international approval for their products in order for them to be accepted in the import-export industry.
India’s compliance with GMP will get better as time passes. As per the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization record, there are already more than 800 pharmaceutical companies registered. The high percentage of Schedule M-GMP compliant is mostly from Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh. Over time there will be more pharmaceutical companies that will be added to the Schedule M-GMP compliant list.
Change can be good or difficult at times; this largely depends on how prepared a person or an organization is to adapt and survive with the new set up. Apparently, the small players in India’s pharmaceutical companies have to buckle down to be more equipped with the changes that GMP brings into their businesses.
GMP harmonization with India’s Schedule M may be a challenge for India on its early implementation but if you will take a look at the bigger picture it is a win-win situation for both India’s pharmaceutical companies and for the consumers. How? If a company is GMP certified it will enhance its credibility in the market, it means that their products are of good quality and have to be trusted. When a product is trusted, many people will opt to purchase that product over anything else and this means increase in number in sales. As for the consumers, this means that they will only get safe, quality and effective pharmaceutical products that will help them with their health concerns. Also, they will surely get the value of their money for the all the pharmaceutical products that they will get.
In retrospect, GMP is a step forward rather than backward for pharmaceutical companies. It raises the bar of India’s and other countries’ pharmaceutical industry practices. With perseverance and hard work they will all become GMP compliant and then can become players on the international stage.
InstantGMP as a Solution for Indian GMP Compliance
Instant GMP™ is a web-based Part 11 compliant manufacturing execution system. It was built on a Quality by Design approach to paperless manufacturing that utilizes a quality system that is integrated into an internet based data base application that operates like a full scale MRP or ERP, but is specific for drug substance or drug product manufacturing. It covers all of the production process starting at setting raw material specifications to ending at manufacturing with electronic batch records. It allows significant reductions in documentation cycles and quality approval times compared to traditional paper-based systems. The big picture is always available, but it can zoom into any part of the operation.
Because it has hard coded standard operating procedures built into the software it can prevent errors and maximize quality. It can be accessed remotely from any location and has security settings on each screen that let it be viewed by anyone while maintaining full data protection. An Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer with InstantGMP would allow their importer to be constantly in touch, to be able to view their progress on-line and to be assured that GMP compliance is automatic.