ISO 13485 consultants- Medical and Pharmaceutical

Introduction

The ISO 13485:2012 Standard relates to quality management systems in the field of Medical Devices, including IVD (In Vitro Diagnostic). The standard can be used by an organization for the design, development, production, installation and servicing of medical devices as well as for the design, development and provision of related services.

ISO 13485 can also be used by internal and external parties, including certification bodies, to assess the organization’s ability to meet customer and regulatory requirements. The standard is published by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, and is available through National Standards Bodies.

It is important to note that the same ISO 13485:2012 Standard, designated as EN ISO 13485:2012, is a “Harmonized Standard” that means a standard prepared under a specific mandate given to CEN by the European Commission, to support the Essential Requirements of the EU Medical Device Directives and the “CE marking“ of the product (90/385/EEC for Active Implantable Medical Devices, 93/42/EEC for “Medical Devices”, and 98/79/EEC for “In Vitro Diagnostic”).

In other words, and in this specific case, it means a quality system that satisfies the requirements contained in the EN ISO 13485 standard is “presumed to be in conformity” with the quality system requirements specified by the European Medical Device Directives.

On the other hand, it is important to clarify that (EN) ISO 13485:2012 Standard is -and remains- a standard applicable on a voluntary base.

To avoid any doubt or misunderstanding it is also important to clarify that the current version of the standard is a “stand alone” standard meaning that a company can apply it without the support of any other quality system standard (i.e. the support of ISO 9001).

It was not the same in the past. In fact, when the standard was initially created (in 1995 and under the name of “EN 46001” and then again in the first version under the new name of “ISO 13485” ), it contained only the “additional requirements” to be used in addition to the ISO 9001 quality system requirements in order to “adapt” the use of ISO 9001 into the specific world of medical devices.

The current format of the ISO 13485:2012 replicates the format of the ISO 9001:2008 Standard and the clause numbering is aligned between the two standards, with evident convenience for the users in the medical device community, especially if an organization chooses to apply both the standards.

Moreover, similarly to ISO 9001, a company can exclude any clause of section 7 that results to be “not applicable” to the business run, also including the clause 7.3 related to Design and Development.

Overview

The ISO 13485:2012 Standard is a “stand alone” Standard, based on the ISO 9001:2008 structure. The ISO/TR 14969:2004 is a Technical Report intended to provide a guidance on the application of ISO 13485:2012. The guidance is useful to better understand the requirements of ISO 13485 and to learn some of the different methods and approaches available to meet ISO 13485 requirements.

ISO 9000:2005 contains the “Fundamentals and Vocabulary” of Quality Management Systems and is indispensable in the application of ISO 13485:2012, as it introduces the user to the concepts behind the management systems and specifies the terminology used; additional and specific “Terms and Definitions” are also given in Chapter 3 of the ISO 13485:2012 Standard.

Is ISO 13485 relevant to your organization?

ISO 13485 is suitable for all the organizations involved in the medical device lifecycle and looking for an improvement in the way it is operated and managed. In recent years, ISO 13485:2012 has become the worldwide reference standard for the companies dealing with medical devices.

In fact, the Standard is commonly used by medical device design organizations, medical devices manufacturing facilities, service organizations (i.e. for medical device packaging, medical device sterilization, stocking, warehousing, distribution, installation, servicing), manufacturers of raw materials for medical devices, and designers and/or manufacturers of semi-finished materials or components etc.

With particular reference to medical device manufacturers (in the sense of the physical or legal person having the legal responsibility of the product on the market, according to the specific local regulations), in the last ten years the ISO 13485:2012 Standard became more and more the common instrument used to build a documented system able to support and facilitate the reaching and keeping of compliance with most of the Medical Device Regulation around the world (European MD Directives, Canadian MDR / SOR98-282, Australian TGA, Japanese GMP, Taiwanese Regulation, Mercosur Regulation, FDA) and in making it simpler to provide evidence of such compliance. Thanks must be attributed to the continuous effort of the Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF) that has been in operation since 1992.

It is important to note that, as with all quality system standards, ISO 13485 is designed to be implemented throughout the whole organization rather than for a particular activity or within a single department or division. In addition, ISO 13485:2012 is closely aligned to other management standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 (Environmental) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety), providing a great opportunity for integration and synergy with other quality systems.

It often happens that an organization with ISO 9001:2008 certification will decide to upgrade its quality system to ISO 13485:2012, maintaining the ISO 9001 certificate. In this case the upgrade, if correctly designed and planned, does not represent a big step in terms of required resources and documentation. Considering the common base of the two systems and the overlap of certain requirements, a very efficient and effective integration can be accomplished.

Global adoption

Following the ISO Survey of Certifications done in 2009, there are about 17,000 certificates in issue for ISO 13485 across 90 countries. An increase of 24% between 2008 and 2009 confirms the ongoing growth and popularity of the standard and its adoption within the global medical device supply chain and regulatory compliance support.

Benefits

  • Implementing a Quality Management System, in general, helps to motivate staff and provide a better definition of roles and key responsibilities.
  • Implementing a Quality Management System specifically tailored for the medical devices industry helps the organization to demonstrate its ability to systematically provide medical devices and services that consistently meet customer requirements, meet applicable regulatory requirements (compliance) and safety standards.
  • Cost savings can be made through improved efficiency and productivity, as product or service deficiencies will be highlighted and corrected.
  • Improvements can be developed on a systematic and monitored base, resulting in less waste, less inappropriate or rejected work, and fewer complaints.
  • Provides a systematic approach to risk management.
  • Systematic, smoother, transparent and documented handling of activities required by regulation such as post-marketing follow-up and surveillance, complaints handling, CAPA implementation, field actions or product recall handling, vigilance and competent authorities reporting, and clinical experience enrichment.
  • Systematic incorporation, at an early stage and within the design and development process, of the regulatory requirements impacting on the product itself and its technical features.
  • Help creating a systematic vision embracing the medical device lifecycle, medical device packaging, its labeling, its installation, its servicing, and its usability. This includes the information provided together with the medical devices, the commercial claims, the unspoken user expectations, the feedback from users or patients, the risks associated with use, the benefits brought to the single patient and to the Community, the costs and the disposal of the medical device.

In other words the real benefit that should be pursued and that can be gained by the use of ISO 13485:2012 is the creation of a company’s culture based on the understanding that the regulatory compliance of a medical device is "within" the medical device, intrinsically bound to the “physicality” of the medical device from the moment it is conceived (designed) until it is manufactured.

A medical device is simply an object; it can be material (tube, scalpel or machine) or immaterial (software). It is important to understand that such an object becomes a medical device, acquires the dignity of a medical device because it answers to a certain definition given by a regulation, the same regulation that gives the requirements the medical device must satisfy.

It is the authors viewpoint that the biggest benefit ISO 13485:2012, especially to manufacturers of medical devices, is the contribution that standard requirements provide in creating awareness -at all levels- that the company will create medical devices, and not only create devices that someone else will need to turn into a medical device. This demonstrates their compliance to regulation as a separate, scholastic exercise.

Auditing

Auditing activity is typically intended to be shared across the 3 following levels:

  • 1st part audits are done by internal or outsourced staff, trained and qualified for the process. The aim is a continual process of review and assessment, to verify that the system is working as it is meant to, to find improvements, to assess the compliance with regulatory requirements, and to correct or prevent problems. It is required that internal auditors audit outside their usual management line in order to add a degree of impartiality to their judgment.
  • 2nd part audits are typically done by a customer’s QA/RA specialist and is typically focused on both the system and the product line object of the collaboration agreement.
  • 3rd part audits are typically done by an external certification body or registrar strictly related to the ISO 13485:2012 Standard, or by a notified body if the ISO 13485 certification is part of a product regulatory compliance assessment process according to European Medical Device Directives.

Note: A notified body, in the European Union, is a certification body that has been accredited and notified (to the European Commission) by the Member State where it is based, to act with reference to a specific European Directive.

Also with reference to auditing and 3rd part certification, the combination of the two schemes (ISO 9001 and ISO 13485) provides advantages in terms of logistics, the assessing of time and certification costs. The assessing of time of a combined ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 Quality System is about two thirds of the time required by the 2 schemes considered separately, meaning a saving of approximately 40-45% on total costs if audits are combined.

Moreover, the certification body’s assessor is almost always qualified for both ISO 13485 and ISO 9001, meaning the assessing team can handle both standards during the same audit session (one team, one opening meeting, one closing meeting, one report), minimizing the burden for the company and streamlining the certification process.

Organizations and enterprises desire register of training, consulting program for Medical and Pharmaceutical management system for ISO 13485: 2012, please contact:

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