GMP Compliance Series: Part 7 - Supplier and Vendor Qualification

The FDA has issued a number of warning letters FDA issued Warning Letters for GMP violations of Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act where they cited failures of the firm’s supplier and vendor certification programs. They issued one to a dietary supplement manufacturer when found the firm had failed to provide sufficient assurance that products received from a supplier were adequately identified and consistent with their purchase order. Another firm (Nuvonyx ) failed to qualify suppliers of components other than dietary ingredients. They did not establish the reliability of the suppliers’ COA through confirmation of the results of the suppliers’ tests or examinations. A third firm (Nutro Laboratories) did not establish the reliability of the supplier’s COA for raw materials tests such as pH, Water-soluble substances, Residue on Ignition and Assay.

Why qualification is important: Qualifying vendors is necessary in order to ensure quality and the identity of the materials received. A well functioning vendor qualification program can significantly reduce the amount of testing that has to be done on in-coming materials. It also reduces the risk of a final product become contaminated or adulterated. The FDA is conducting ever more inspections of dietary supplement manufacturers and packagers and they are expecting a higher compliance rate in the future.

How to improve: The first step is to establish a Vendor Verification program. This program should include:

  1. Qualification of all suppliers including components, ingredients, labels, etc.
  2. Audits of suppliers and vendors
  3. Checking that COAs from vendors include specifications for identity, description, limits on contaminants, results, strength, and acceptance limits
  4. Confirming the test results of certificates of analysis
  5. Re-qualifying the vendor at periodic intervals
  6. Reviewing specifications, procedures, and lab controls
  7. Regular reviews of vendor’s documentation
Conduct a audit of dietary ingredient and other component suppliers before accepting their COAs as primary documentation for compliance. An audit plan can consist of the following items:

Finally, remember that compliance can only be achieved through due diligence and ensuring that you are complying with the requirements you must fulfill in accepting materials from your dietary ingredient and component suppliers.

GMP Compliance Series Links

Part 1: Improving Documentation of GMP Procedures
Part 2: Better Compliance through Master Manufacturing Records
Part 3: Improving Batch Production Records
Part 4: Specifications That Improve Compliance
Part 5: Improving Quality through In-Process Control
Part 6: Documenting Deviations for Improved Compliance
Part 7: Supplier and Vendor Qualification
Part 8: Complaints and Recalls
Part 9: Packaging and Labeling
Part 10: Equipment for Dietary Supplement Manufacturing
Part 11: Facility Design for Dietary Supplement Manufacturing
Part 12: Facility Areas for Dietary Supplement Manufacturing
Part 13: Testing in Dietary Supplement Manufacturing
Part 14: Training Documentation

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