Very few API plants in China allowed to supply the EU

Generics/General | Posted 15/01/2010 post-comment0 Post your comment

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Amalia Sartori has questioned the European Commission (EC)’s estimate that 20,000 active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) producers supply the EU, which was used to justify not having mandatory inspections.


Evidence supporting her doubt has already been provided by Guy Villax, CEO of Hovione, and Chris Oldenhof, President of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients Committee (APIC) and also Manager of External Regulatory Affairs at DSM and a board member of the European Fine Chemicals Group (EFCG).

Mr Oldenhof told Outsourcing-Pharma that the 20,000 figure is “entirely absurd”. He explained that the estimate of 20,000 API plants came from the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), Mr Oldenhof himself to be precise, but was not intended to represent the number of sites that should be inspected. CEFIC gave the figure in response to the question: "How many API manufacturers may be supplying to Europe in the situation that there is a lack of authority oversight?” Consequently the figure is a rough estimate, and given the complexity it is very difficult to be certain of the true number of the total number of API plants outside of the EU. However, only a very small proportion of these sites are allowed, legally speaking, to supply the EU. Mr Oldenhof said that “it is very obvious that only a small part of that grand total should be inspected” but it is difficult to give an exact figure of how many API plants the EU should be looking at. Based on different methods of estimation and on various data sources Mr Oldenhof gave 500 as a rough figure for the number of sites that are allowed to supply the EU, but he emphasised that this is “an educated guess that makes clear that 20,000 is madness”.

The original timeline for the EU draft directive aimed for a political agreement to have been reached by 30 November 2009, but this has been delayed because of the complexity of discussions, according to Mr Oldenhof. He now expects the European Parliament to vote on the directive in April or May 2010 and before this point it can still be “drastically amended”. This creates the possibility that mandatory inspections could be implemented and there appears to be some political desire for this change.

Ms Sartori, the MEP who filed the question with the EC, told Outsourcing-Pharma that she is convinced mandatory inspections are “the only effective way to protect our citizens and to guarantee the quality of medical products available in the European market”.


Nick Taylor. MEP questions figure used to justify not having mandatory inspections of API plants. Outsourcing Pharma. 2009 December 2.

Nick Taylor. Mandatory overseas API inspections needed; ITRE. Outsourcing Pharma. 2009 December 8.

Commission staff working document. Accompanying document to the Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Directive 2001/83/EC as regards the prevention of the entry into the legal supply chain of medicinal products which are falsified in relation to their identity, history or source. COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES. 2008 December 10.

WRITTEN QUESTION by Amalia Sartori (PPE) to the Commission - Subject: Compulsory inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredient production sites, to check compliance with good manufacturing practice. 2009 November 18.

Ed Silverman. Overseas API inspections should be mandatory. Pharmalot. 2009 December 8.

Source: Outsourcing Pharma; Pharmalot

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