When do tissues and cells become products? – Regulatory oversight of emerging biological therapies
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- Farrugia, A. Cell Tissue Banking (2006) 7: 325. doi:10.1007/s10561-006-9012-1
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Although therapeutics derived from biological sources have been subjected to regulatory oversight for some time, the products used in transplantation procedures have historically been exempt from this oversight. These products have been viewed as being part of medical practice rather than as the result of mainstream pharmaceutical manufacture. Furthermore, their unique source makes them difficult to assess in traditional regulatory systems based on the␣tenets of pharmaceutical quality control. With the␣increasing use of transplantation therapies to both replace dysfunctional organs and to influence genetic and metabolic processes, public health concerns on these therapies have increased. In addition, it is recognized that therapeutic claims for some of these interventions need to be properly assessed. These considerations have led the established regulatory agencies of the developed world to develop new regulatory paradigms for the products of transplantation practice. While a number of concerns have driven these developments, the minimization of infectious disease risk remains the paramount driver for introducing these regulatory systems. More than the regulation of medicines and medical devices manufactured in traditional pharmaceutical modes, the regulation of cell and tissue products is intimately linked to areas of public health policy and funding. This places regulators in a challenging position as they attempt to reconcile their roles as independent assessors with the needs of the overall public health framework. This is particularly difficult when considering measures which may affect access to life saving therapies. Regulators have recognized the need to assess these therapies through systems which incorporate consideration of risk-benefit ratios and include mechanisms for transparent and accountable release of products when full compliance to traditional concepts of manufacturing practice is not possible.