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By Tara Lin Couch

EAS is pleased to introduce a new column in our EAS-e-News called Ask the Expert. Each month our expert consultants and Senior Directors will answer one question sent in by readers (edited if applicable to remove identifying information). If you’d like to submit a question, please use the “contact us” link on our website.

Tara Lin Couch Ph.D.

This month’s question answered by Tara Lin Couch, Ph.D., Senior Director for Dietary Supplement and Tobacco Services and the topic is whether there is a crossover between ISO certifications and GMPs in the laboratory.

QuestionIf a contract Laboratory is ISO certified, can we bypass an onsite audit if we incorporate this statement in our SOPs?

Couch: Absolutely not, ISO certification does not equal GMP compliance. I have seen many labs that are ISO certified and have terrible GMP compliance. Remember, ISO 17025 is not looking at the whole lab, it is looking at a specific test method or operation. It will dictate that the lab can run a particular test, Vitamin C for example, or operate a balance, but does not look at the entire laboratory quality systems. There are certain things that are covered in GMPs that are not covered in ISO, OOS (Out of Specifications) investigations would be one of those. OOS investigations should be conducted in accordance with the FDA, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Guidance for Industry: Out of Specification (OOS) Test Results for Pharmaceutical Production, issued in October of 2006. In this guidance, the FDA states that an investigation must be thorough, timely, unbiased, well-documented, and scientifically sound to be meaningful. There is a quality manual requirement in ISO 17025 that touches on investigations, but it is not near the level of detail that you would find in a GMP environment.

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