Quality & Safety Standards

Quality & Safety Standards

In everything we do—from research and development to the manufacturing and distribution of our medicines, vaccines and other products—safety, quality and efficacy are our primary considerations.

Our quality strategy is focused on ensuring reliable, compliant supply to our customers, assuring that our products are there when people need them, and having an engaged and capable workforce to ensure and sustain future success.

We apply and adhere to a strict set of quality standards, and we have policies and procedures in place to identify, measure, control and sustain product-quality excellence. We continuously strive to improve these standards in order to enhance procedures and ensure ongoing compliance with Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs).

We provide appropriate and ongoing training on quality and CGMPs for our employees, so they are prepared to perform their duties effectively. Our system not only ensures that all applicable employees are trained, but also monitors the effectiveness of training.

We maintain strict quality standards no matter where our products are manufactured.

All manufacturing facilities that we own and operate, and any company from which we purchase formulated pharmaceuticals, active ingredients or sterile products, must comply with CGMPs. These standards include requirements for incoming materials and the manufacturing, storage, handling and distribution of products.

Counterfeit products are a growing global problem and a serious threat to public health. We believe that maintaining the integrity of our supply chain is of paramount importance. Our corporate global anti-counterfeiting program has three primary goals: securing the supply chain; deterring, rapidly detecting and responding to counterfeit activity; and raising public awareness of the risks posed by counterfeits. To learn more about our anti-counterfeiting program, click here.

SUPPLIER SELECTION

We maintain strict quality standards no matter where our products are manufactured. Once we have made a decision to engage an external manufacturer, that manufacturer is required to comply with our business requirements set forth in the contract, regardless of geography.

We conduct audits of every potential new supplier of active pharmaceutical ingredients or formulated products and sterile products, to determine its acceptability and compliance with CGMPs. We review the systems that the potential supplier uses to purchase materials in order to ensure the quality of the products the supplier hopes to provide to us. Only if a supplier meets our stringent criteria, which include a review of the company’s regulatory inspection and outcome history, will we then negotiate a commercial agreement. These agreements include detailed provisions relating to the quality standards we require suppliers to uphold in order for them to manufacture a product for our use. To learn more about how we work with external suppliers, click here.

AUDITS AND INSPECTIONS

Our manufacturing facilities are inspected by international health authorities. In 2016, we had 70 regulatory inspections at our human health and animal health facilities, all of which concluded with satisfactory outcomes.

We conduct periodic audits to further ensure that suppliers continue to meet CGMPs. Through such audits, we evaluate the continued acceptability of the facility from a quality assurance and regulatory compliance perspective.

The frequency of quality auditing depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The nature and complexity of the product being manufactured (e.g., whether it is a formulated pharmaceutical, active ingredient or sterile product) and how it is used by our company
  • The degree of reliance on supplier test results and previous audit results

Quality tests are performed on all active pharmaceutical ingredients that we purchase as part of our overall supplier-qualification process, and further tests are performed during subsequent stages of manufacturing. Quality tests are performed on all formulated products before we release them to the marketplace.

Testing of chemicals used in the manufacturing of our products is conducted in accordance with our specifications, which in many cases include the applicable pharmacopeia standards (i.e., the United States Pharmacopeia [USP], the European Pharmacopeia [EUP] and the Japanese Pharmacopeia [JP]). The USP is the official standard for all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements and other health care products manufactured and sold in the U.S. These standards are also recognized and used in more than 130 countries.

Performance

QUALITY & PRODUCT SAFETY2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Number of product recalls in the United States1,24 2 3 3 1
Annual percentage of units manufactured/sold and recalled during a given year (our global recall rate)1,2 0.19% 0.11% 0.22% 0.07% 0.01%
NR: Not reported.
1. Definition of Recall Classifications:
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049070.htm#RecallClassifications.
2. Beginning in 2014, product recalls include data from our Animal Health business.

In 2016, we initiated a total of one product recall in the U.S. This was a voluntary action undertaken by the company as part of our commitment to ensuring product quality. The voluntary recall was for an animal health biological vaccine agreed with and under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.