This article explains details of implementing a CAPA preventive action and corrective action for packaging issues. Specifically, containment measures, corrections, corrective actions, and preventive actions to address the root cause identified in part 1 of this case study.
CAPA Step 1: Containment of Product with Defective Packaging
When you learn of a packaging complaint related to a specific lot, you also need to determine if another product associated with the lot is safe to ship to customers. You should not attempt a correction and removal of the product unless you have a reasonably high level of confidence that there is a packaging issue with the lot or a portion of a lot, but you might consider placing product from the same lot in your inventory on hold until your investigation is completed. If you confirm that you have an issue with a specific lot, lots, or portion of a lot, then you should initiate correction and removal of product to prevent potentially, a non-sterile product from being used. This type of problem could result in a Class 1 recall (i.e., the most severe of the three categories). Therefore, you need to act quickly and according to established procedures for corrections and removals.
CAPA Step 2: Correction(s) of Defective Packaging
If you find a problem, there is little you can do to fix the existing defective packaging other than to repackage the product. If the product has only been sterilized once, and you have revalidated the product for resterilization, then you can repackage, relabel and resterilize. To ensure traceability to the lot that has been reworked, you may need to revise the labeling (e.g., add an “R” to the lot number). If you have not revalidated the resterilization of the product, you may want to use this lot for validation of resterilization instead of throwing it out. However, sometimes your best option is to scrap the product.
Additional corrections may involve correcting the calibration of a testing device or performing a repair to sealing equipment. You might modify a specification on a drawing. You might correct a work instruction that did not have the correct, validated sealing parameters. All of these could be corrections.
CAPA Step 4: Corrective Action(s) for Packaging Issues
Investigation of root cause (CAPA Step 3) occurs in parallel with containment (CAPA Step 1) and correction (CAPA Step 2). Corrective actions (CAPA Step 4) prevent the packaging issues from recurring, and they occur after the first three steps because you can only implement corrective actions once you understand the root cause of the quality issue. The best tool for evaluating your current process controls and evaluating the implementation of new corrective actions is a process risk control plan. In order to do this, you need a process flow diagram and a process risk analysis. Each step of the process, from the raw material fabrication of film to the released product, needs to have potential hazards identified, risks evaluated, and risk controls implemented. You should use your process validation to verify the effectiveness of process risk controls quantitatively. If the process capability is greater than 95% for each parameter, and you have addressed every possible source of problems, then you probably won’t gain much from additional risk controls. However, many companies reduce their sampling or rely on certificates of conformity to ensure that the process is controlled adequately.
CAPA Step 5: CAPA Preventive Action for Packaging Issues
You already had a packaging issue with one lot of products, but you could have another issue with a different product or lot for the same reason or a different reason. If the product is the same, and the reason is the same, then the actions taken are corrective actions. If you take action to prevent the occurrence of this issue with a different product, or you prevent other potential causes of packaging issues by initiating more robust monitoring and process controls, then your actions are preventive. Often you will want to implement both types of actions.
In the box plot example provided in this article, Lot D was detected at incoming inspection as having peel test results that were outside the alert limit but acceptable when compared to the specification limit for peel testing. The alert limit was established during validation of the pouches and comparison of lots A, B, C, and D, demonstrate that Lot D is slightly lower in peel strength. The manufacturer may choose to use the lot, but the sampling plan for in-process peel testing may be altered, or the manufacturer may choose to place the new lot in quarantine while an investigation is performed. This is a CAPA preventive action.
Below I have listed six additional potential CAPA preventive actions to consider for your packaging process:
- Perform peel testing and/or bubble leak testing of packaging raw materials as part of the receiving inspection process and perform data analysis of the incoming inspection samples to determine if lower or higher alert and action limits should be established for the new lot of raw materials. The limits should be based upon the manufacturer’s seals as well as your seal.
- Retain remnants of in-process peel testing, include the remnants with the sterilization load, and then store the remnants for real-time aging.
- Consider implementing visual inspection tools that are able to detect sealing imperfections non-destructively.
- Increase the number of samples you test (e.g., 1 to 3 or 3 to 5) for each lot of product sealed to increase your confidence that the seals will be within specifications.
- Perform statistical analysis of in-process data for seal peel strength in order to identify potential lots with packaging issues prior to release.
- Evaluate the performance of the packaging at temperature and humidity extremes that may be higher or lower than the conservative estimates for ambient conditions (e.g., 30C vs. 25C).
In addition to the previous article that was part 1 of this case study, I have posted ten other blogs specifically on the topic of CAPA. There is also a CAPA procedure you can download from this website.
Risk-based CAPA Webinar
If you are interested in learning more about a risk-based approach to CAPAs, then please click here.