Good-manufacturing-practice and good-distribution-practice compliance

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This content applies to human and veterinary medicines.

Good manufacturing practice (GMP) and good distribution practice (GDP) are related aspects of the quality assurance for medicines in the European Economic Area (EEA). The European Medicines Agency plays an important role in coordinating these activities in collaboration with Member States.

Good manufacturing practice

Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is “that part of quality assurance which ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use.” The principles and guidelines for GMP are stated in two Directives:

GMP guidelines provide interpretation of these principles and guidelines, supplemented by a series of annexes that modify or augment the detailed guidelines for certain types of product, or provide more specific guidance on a particular topic.

Compliance with these principles and guidelines is mandatory within the EEA.

Information on GMP inspections coordinated by the European Medicines Agency can be found under coordination of GMP inspections.

Good distribution practice

Good distribution practice (GDP) ensures that the level of quality determined by GMP is maintained throughout the distribution network, so that authorised medicines are distributed to retail pharmacists and others selling medicines general public without any alteration of their properties. The principles of GDP are stated in Directive 92/25/EEC.

GDP should be implemented through a quality system operated by the distributor or wholesaler of medicinal products to ensure that:

  • the medicinal products that they distribute are authorised in accordance with European Union (EU) legislation;
  • storage conditions are observed at all times, including during transportation;
  • contamination from or of other products is avoided;
  • an adequate turnover of stored medicinal products takes place;
  • products are stored in appropriately safe and secure areas.

In addition, the quality system should ensure that the right products are delivered to the right addressee within a satisfactory time period. A tracing system should enable any faulty products to be found and there should be an effective recall procedure.

For more information, see:

Supply issues due to manufacturing problems (updated)

The occurrence of shortages of medicines due to manufacturing and quality problems has increased over the past few years.

In November 2012, the Agency developed a reflection paper in collaboration with the European regulatory network on supply shortages due to manufacturing or GMP compliance problems. The paper summarises the lessons learned from previous crises where the Agency had a supporting or coordinating role and presents a short and mid-term action plan that may allow the European regulatory network to prevent, mitigate, and manage shortages of important medicines.

To report potential shortages of medicines caused by GMP-compliance or quality problems, e-mail In the notification, clearly indicate if the problem identified is likely to lead to a shortage.

Role of the Agency

The Agency's work involves harmonisation and co-ordination of GMP and GDP activities at an EU level. It is involved in:

  • coordinating the preparation of new and revised guidance on GMP and GDP;
  • coordinating advice on the interpretation of EU GMP and GDP requirements and related technical issues;
  • developing Community-wide procedures relating to GMP and GDP inspections, known as the compilation of Community procedures.

This work is carried out in the framework of the GMP / GDP Inspectors Working Group.

The Agency has a coordinating role for all GMP-, product- and process-related inspections of manufacturing sites submitted through the centralised procedure and is involved in the international coordination of GMP inspections of the manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients and finished dosage forms.

The Agency also:

The regulatory system for the supervision of pharmaceutical manufacturers and GMP inspection in the European Union (EU)  is one of the most advanced in the world. Due to the globalisation of pharmaceutical manufacture, it also affects industry, regulators and patients outside the EU.

An article published by EMA, the European Commission and Member States representatives describes the EU system for GMP supervision of manufacturers and inspections:

GMP advice

The Agency welcomes questions on its activities and the regulatory framework within which it operates. However, specific questions on the interpretation of GMP requirements or questions concerning products that are not subject to the centralised procedure should be addressed as follows:

  • if the product is or will be manufactured outside the EEA, questions should be addressed to the current or prospective qualified person of the EU or EEA batch-releasing site of the product, of, if unknown, to the prospective supervisory authority (the national authority of the Member State where the importer or prospective importer is located);
  • if the product is or will be manufactured within the EEA, questions should be addressed to the current or prospective manufacturer's qualified person or the national competent authority of the Member State where the manufacturer is located;
  • questions pertaining to the interpretation of EU legislation should be addressed to the European Commission;
  • questions pertaining to guidelines issued by other regulators or international organisations, or to technical guides published by industry associations should be addressed directly to the regulator, organisation or association concerned.

Please check the question-and-answer page before submitting a query.

More information

Table of contents

Reflection paper on supply shortages

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Other documents of interest

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Concept papers

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Document(s) Language Status First published Last updated Effective Date
Concept paper on good manufacturing practice and marketing authorisation holders (English only) draft: consultation closed 2016-10-04 2016-10-20  
Concept paper on new guidance for importers of medicinal products (English only) draft: consultation closed 2015-05-29    
Concept paper on the revision of annex 1 of the guidelines on good manufacturing practice – manufacture of sterile medicinal products (English only) draft: consultation closed 2015-02-05    
Draft concept paper on revision of annex 15 of the good-manufacturing-practice guide (English only) draft: consultation closed 2012-11-27    
Draft concept paper on revision of annex 17 of the good-manufacturing-practice guide (English only) draft: consultation closed 2012-11-27    
Concept paper on revising annex 16 of the guide to good manufacturing practice: Certification by a qualified person and batch release (English only) draft: consultation closed 2011-11-08