One of the aims of the programmes is to monitor the quality of the finished products in all part of the distribution chain throughout the authorised shelf-life, to check their compliance with the authorised specifications.
The staff that has the responsibility to take the samples (normally Inspectors of the national competent authorities), whenever possible will endeavour to have access directly to the products available in the pharmacies (community or hospitals pharmacies) - or at the wholesalers.
In the most serious cases, this could lead to the withdrawal of the product from the market.
In most of the cases, however, the problems identified during the testing can be dealt with by further investigations (e.g. inspection at a manufacturing site, seeking clarification from the marketing authorisation holder).
A specific EMA procedure is implemented to deal with products whose testing has highlighted quality problems or technical issues.