Validation Protocols for Pharmaceutical Industries

For pharmaceutical industries, product quality is paramount. Minor inconsistencies can lead to major disasters. To maintain quality assurance, consistency and risk assessment, industries conduct a validation of processes and equipment. A validation is a documented evidence of the consistency of processes and equipment. Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ) and Performance Qualification (PQ) are an essential part of quality assurance through equipment validation.

DQ IQ OQ PQ protocols are ways of establishing that the equipment which is being used or installed will offer a high degree of quality assurance, so that manufacturing processes will consistently produce products that meet predetermined quality requirements.

Design Qualification (DQ)

Design qualification is a verification process on the design to meet particular requirements relating to the quality of manufacturing and pharmaceutical practices. It is important to take these procedures into consideration and follow them keenly. Along with Process Validation, pharmaceutical manufacturers must conduct Design Qualification during the initial stages. For DQ to be considered whole, other qualifications i.e. IQ, OQ and PQ need to be implemented on each instrument and the system as a whole.

DQ allows manufacturers to make corrections and changes reducing costs and avoiding delays. Changes made to a DQ should be documented which makes DQ on the finalized design easier and less prone to errors. By the use of a design validation protocol it is possible to determine whether the equipment or product will deliver its full functionality and conform to the requirements of the validation master plan.

Installation Qualification (IQ)

Any new equipment is first validated to check if it is capable of producing the desired results through Design Qualification, but its performance in a real-world scenario depends on the installation procedure that follows. Installation Qualification (IQ) verifies that the instrument or equipment being qualified, as well as its sub-systems and any ancillary systems, have been delivered, installed and configured in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications or installation checklist. All procedures to do with maintenance, cleaning and calibration are drawn at the installation stage. It also details a list of all the continued Good Manufacturing Procedures (cGMP) requirements that are applicable in the installation qualification.

Conformance with cGMP’s requires, that whatever approach is used, it is fully documented in the individual Validation Plan. The IQ should not start with the Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) or Commissioning tasks, but it should start before these tasks are completed; enabling the validation team to witness and document the final FAT and commissioning testing. The integration of these activities greatly reduces the costly and time consuming replication of unnecessary retesting.

These requirements must all be satisfied before the IQ can be completed and the qualification process is allowed to progress to the execution of the OQ.

Operational Qualification (OQ)

Operational Qualification is an essential process during the development of equipment required in the pharmaceutical industry. OQ is a series of tests which of tests which ensure the equipment and its sub-systems will operate within their specified limits consistently and dependably. Equipment may also be tested during OQ for qualities such as using an expected and acceptable amount of power or maintaining a certain temperature for a predetermined period of time. OQ follows a specific procedure to maintain thoroughness of the tests and accuracy of the results. The protocol must be detailed and easily replicated so that equipment can be tested multiple times using different testers. This ensures that the results are reliable and do not vary from tester to tester. OQ is an important step to develop safe and effective equipment.

Performance Qualification (PQ)

PQ is the final step in qualification processes for equipment, and this step involves verifying and documenting that the equipment is working reproducibly within a specified working range. Rather than testing each instrument individually, they are all tested together as part of a partial or overall process. Before the qualification begins, a detailed test plan is created, based on the process description.

Process Performance Qualification (PPQ) protocol is a vital part of process validation and qualification, which is used to ensure ongoing product quality by documenting performance over a period of time for a certain process.

Equipment qualification through DQ IQ OQ PQ practices is a part of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), through which manufacturers and laboratories can ensure that their equipment delivers consistent quality. It reduces the margin for errors, so the product quality can be maintained within industry standards or regulatory authority requirements. When qualification of equipment is not needed very frequently, performing it in-house might not be feasible, so smaller laboratories might benefit from scheduling external equipment validation services on a regular basis instead.

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