Operation of a radiopharmacy for a clinical trial. Academic Article uri icon


  • Clinical investigations of radiopharmaceuticals are undertaken to advance promising compounds toward approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "legend drugs." This FDA approval requires that the safety and efficacy of the investigational drug (ID) be demonstrated through clinical trials. The investigational radiopharmaceutical drug service (IRDS) is a pharmacy service that plays a critical role in the acquisition, preparation, accountability, and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals used in clinical research. Due to their radioactive and other unique properties, and their potential role as biomarkers or tools in clinical trials of other therapeutic drugs, radiopharmaceutical drugs must be managed by a qualified IRDS rather than by a typical pharmacy-based investigational drug service (IDS). The IRDS is responsible for establishing study-specific procedures for appropriate radiopharmaceutical drug accountability, billing, procurement, storage, preparation, dispensing and destruction of investigational drugs within the hospital. All drugs, and particularly parenteral drug products, must be safe for administration to human subjects enrolled in clinical trials regardless of their FDA regulatory status as approved or investigational new drug products. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) <797> sterile compounding requirements provides enforceable minimum practice and quality standards for compounded sterile preparations of drug products based on current scientific information and best sterile compounding practices. Consequently, they apply equally to facilities dedicated to IDS and IRDS operations. The FDA also regulates drug manufacturing through current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). This rule (21CFR Part 212) establishes cGMP regulations specific to positron emission tomography radiopharmaceuticals, separate from the regular drug cGMP rule (Parts 210 and 211). Compliance with regulatory, statutory, and sponsor requirements is a major consideration in the operation of a radiopharmacy for clinical trials. Sponsors conduct audits as part of the quality assurance of clinical trials. Audits of clinical trial sites by the sponsor, sponsor's clinical research organization, institutional review board, or FDA always include a detailed review of drug accountability records. Audits for radiopharmaceutical drug products typically begin by confirming the clinical site is appropriately licensed and authorized to receive, possess, store, handle, prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals. All procedures for radiopharmaceutical drug accountability must comply with applicable federal regulations and the specific requirements specified by the study sponsor.Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010