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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21

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The information on this page is current as of April 1 2018.

For the most up-to-date version of CFR Title 21, go to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR).

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Help | More About 21CFR
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 5]
[Revised as of April 1, 2018]
[CITE: 21CFR320.33]



Subpart B--Procedures for Determining the Bioavailability or Bioequivalence of Drug Products

Sec. 320.33 Criteria and evidence to assess actual or potential bioequivalence problems.

The Commissioner of Food and Drugs shall consider the following factors, when supported by well-documented evidence, to identify specific pharmaceutical equivalents and pharmaceutical alternatives that are not or may not be bioequivalent drug products.

(a) Evidence from well-controlled clinical trials or controlled observations in patients that such drug products do not give comparable therapeutic effects.

(b) Evidence from well-controlled bioequivalence studies that such products are not bioequivalent drug products.

(c) Evidence that the drug products exhibit a narrow therapeutic ratio, e.g., there is less than a 2-fold difference in median lethal dose (LD50) and median effective dose (ED50) values, or have less than a 2-fold difference in the minimum toxic concentrations and minimum effective concentrations in the blood, and safe and effective use of the drug products requires careful dosage titration and patient monitoring.

(d) Competent medical determination that a lack of bioequivalence would have a serious adverse effect in the treatment or prevention of a serious disease or condition.

(e) Physicochemical evidence that:

(1) The active drug ingredient has a low solubility in water, e.g., less than 5 milligrams per 1 milliliter, or, if dissolution in the stomach is critical to absorption, the volume of gastric fluids required to dissolve the recommended dose far exceeds the volume of fluids present in the stomach (taken to be 100 milliliters for adults and prorated for infants and children).

(2) The dissolution rate of one or more such products is slow, e.g., less than 50 percent in 30 minutes when tested using either a general method specified in an official compendium or a paddle method at 50 revolutions per minute in 900 milliliters of distilled or deionized water at 37 deg. C, or differs significantly from that of an appropriate reference material such as an identical drug product that is the subject of an approved full new drug application.

(3) The particle size and/or surface area of the active drug ingredient is critical in determining its bioavailability.

(4) Certain physical structural characteristics of the active drug ingredient, e.g., polymorphic forms, conforms, solvates, complexes, and crystal modifications, dissolve poorly and this poor dissolution may affect absorption.

(5) Such drug products have a high ratio of excipients to active ingredients, e.g., greater than 5 to 1.

(6) Specific inactive ingredients, e.g., hydrophilic or hydrophobic excipients and lubricants, either may be required for absorption of the active drug ingredient or therapeutic moiety or, alternatively, if present, may interfere with such absorption.

(f) Pharmacokinetic evidence that:

(1) The active drug ingredient, therapeutic moiety, or its precursor is absorbed in large part in a particular segment of the gastrointestinal tract or is absorbed from a localized site.

(2) The degree of absorption of the active drug ingredient, therapeutic moiety, or its precursor is poor, e.g., less than 50 percent, ordinarily in comparison to an intravenous dose, even when it is administered in pure form, e.g., in solution.

(3) There is rapid metabolism of the therapeutic moiety in the intestinal wall or liver during the process of absorption (first-pass metabolism) so the therapeutic effect and/or toxicity of such drug product is determined by the rate as well as the degree of absorption.

(4) The therapeutic moiety is rapidly metabolized or excreted so that rapid dissolution and absorption are required for effectiveness.

(5) The active drug ingredient or therapeutic moiety is unstable in specific portions of the gastrointestinal tract and requires special coatings or formulations, e.g., buffers, enteric coatings, and film coatings, to assure adequate absorption.

(6) The drug product is subject to dose dependent kinetics in or near the therapeutic range, and the rate and extent of absorption are important to bioequivalence.

[42 FR 1635, Jan. 7, 1977. Redesignated and amended at 57 FR 18001, Apr. 28, 1992; 81 FR 17066, Mar. 28, 2016]