Quality risk management process
Quality risk management is a systematic process for the assessment, control, communication and review of risks to the quality of the drug (medicinal) product across the product lifecycle. A mode for quality risk management is outlined in the following diagram. Other models could be used. The emphasis on each component of the framework might differ from case to case but a robust process will incorporate consideration of all the elements at a level of detail that is commensurate with the specific risk.
Risk assessment consists of the identification of hazards and the analysis and evaluation of risks associated with exposure to those hazards (as defined below). Quality risk assessments begin with a well-defined problem description or risk question. When the risk in question is well defined, an appropriate risk management tool and the types of information needed to address the risk question will be more readily identifiable. As an aid to clearly defining the risk(s) for risk assessment purposes, three fundamental questions are often helpful:
1. What might go wrong?
2. What is the likelihood (probability) it will go wrong?
3. What are the consequences (severity)?
It is a systematic use of information to identify hazards referring to the risk question or problem description.Information can include historical data, theoretical analysis, informed opinions, and the concerns of stakeholders. Risk identification addresses the “What might go wrong?” question, including identifying the possible consequences. This provides the basis for further steps in the quality risk management process.
It is the estimation of the risk associated with the identified hazards. It is the qualitative or quantitative process of linking the likelihood of occurrence and severity of harms. In some risk management tools, the ability to detect the harm (detectability) also factors in the estimation of risk.
It includes decision making to reduce and/or accept risks. The purpose of risk control is to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The amount of effort used for risk control should be proportional to the significance of the risk. Decision makers might use different processes, including benefit-cost analysis, for understanding the optimal level of risk control.
Risk control might focus on the following questions:
• Is the risk above an acceptable level?
• What can be done to reduce or eliminate risks?
• What is the appropriate balance among benefits, risks and resources?
• Are new risks introduced as a result of the identified risks being controlled?
It focuses on processes for mitigation or avoidance of quality risk when it exceeds a specified (acceptable) level (see above figure). Risk reduction might include actions taken to mitigate the severity and probability of harm. Processes that improve the detectability of hazards and quality risks might also be used as part of a risk control strategy. The implementation of risk reduction measures can introduce new risks into the system or increase the significance of other existing risks. Hence, it might be appropriate to revisit the riskassessment to identify and evaluate any possible change in risk after implementing a risk reduction process.
It is a decision to accept risk. Risk acceptance can be a formal decision to accept the residual risk or it can be a passive decision in which residual risks are not specified. For some types of harms, even the best quality risk management practices might not entirely eliminate risk. In these circumstances, it might be agreed that an appropriate quality risk management strategy has been applied and that quality risk is reduced to a specified (acceptable) level. This (specified) acceptable level will depend on many parameters and should be decided on a case-by-case basis.