EU GMP Guidelines Chapter 4

Definition of the term (“What is Chapter 4 of the EU GMP Guide?”)

Chap­ter 4 of the EU GMP Gui­de fo­cu­ses on do­cu­men­ta­ti­on and re­cords in phar­maceu­ti­cal pro­duc­tion. This sec­tion is cru­cial, as ac­cu­ra­te do­cu­men­ta­ti­on en­su­res that the ma­nu­fac­tu­re of me­di­cinal pro­ducts meets the hig­hest qua­li­ty standards. 

EU GMP Guide, Chapter 4: The significance of documentation

  • The si­gni­fi­can­ce of do­cu­men­ta­ti­on: Pro­per do­cu­men­ta­ti­on is a cor­ner­stone of any phar­maceu­ti­cal ma­nu­fac­tu­ring prac­ti­ce. It en­ables ma­nu­fac­tu­r­ers to make the en­ti­re ma­nu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess traceable and en­su­re that all steps are per­for­med in ac­cordance with va­lid re­gu­la­ti­ons and stan­dards. Chap­ter 4 of the EU GMP Gui­de is spe­ci­fi­cal­ly de­di­ca­ted to this im­portant topic. 
  • The re­qui­re­ments of Chap­ter 4: Chap­ter 4 sets out de­tail­ed re­qui­re­ments for do­cu­men­ta­ti­on in phar­maceu­ti­cal pro­duc­tion. This in­cludes the crea­ti­on, re­view and up­dating of do­cu­ments such as ma­nu­fac­tu­ring in­s­truc­tions, pro­cess in­s­truc­tions, re­cords and pro­to­cols. Do­cu­men­ta­ti­on must be ac­cu­ra­te, com­ple­te and in an un­der­stan­da­ble form.

Compliance with Chapter 4 of the EU GMP Guideline

Com­pli­ance with the re­qui­re­ments of Chap­ter 4 is of cri­ti­cal si­gni­fi­can­ce to en­su­re con­for­mi­ty with EU GMP gui­de­lines. Pro­per do­cu­men­ta­ti­on is es­sen­ti­al not only from a re­gu­la­to­ry per­spec­ti­ve, but also from a qua­li­ty per­spec­ti­ve. It helps to mi­ni­mi­ze er­rors, de­tect and cor­rect de­via­ti­ons, and en­su­re the qua­li­ty and in­te­gri­ty of ma­nu­fac­tu­red me­di­cinal products.

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Our di­gi­tiza­ti­on so­lu­ti­ons pri­ma­ri­ly ad­dress do­cu­ment-ba­sed pro­ces­ses in ma­nu­fac­tu­ring, pro­duc­tion and qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment. The ba­sis of the dls | eQMS is a ho­li­stic ECM/DMS sys­tem. The ECM/DMS sys­tem can be con­nec­ted to your exis­ting ERP sys­tem (e.g. SAP) and thus map al­most all do­cu­ment-ba­sed pro­ces­ses in the company.

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What are the documentation challenges?

Pro­per do­cu­men­ta­ti­on ma­nage­ment can be chal­len­ging. It re­qui­res careful plan­ning, trai­ning of em­ployees, and the use of ap­pro­pria­te soft­ware and tech­no­lo­gy. Or­ga­niza­ti­ons of­ten face the chall­enge of ma­na­ging lar­ge vo­lu­mes of do­cu­ments and en­su­ring that they are al­ways up-to-date.

What are the important parts of the documentation?

  • Do­cu­ment type: Batch do­cu­ments are de­tail­ed do­cu­ments that pro­vi­de a chro­no­lo­gi­cal re­port of the ma­nu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess of each batch. They con­tain in­for­ma­ti­on on raw ma­te­ri­als, equip­ment used, pro­ce­du­res car­ri­ed out and test re­sults. The­se re­cords are es­sen­ti­al for tracea­bi­li­ty and qua­li­ty control.

  • Spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons: Spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons out­line the qua­li­ty pa­ra­me­ters that a pro­duct must ful­fill. They co­ver va­rious aspects such as the iden­ti­ty, strength and cla­ri­ty of the in­gre­di­ents. Com­pli­ance with the­se spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons is cru­cial for en­su­ring pro­duct quality.

  • Ch­an­ge con­trol: Ch­an­ge con­trol pro­ce­du­res are in place to ma­na­ge mo­di­fi­ca­ti­ons to pro­ces­ses, equip­ment or fa­ci­li­ties. Chap­ter 4 of the EU GMP Gui­de em­pha­si­zes the need for a well-do­cu­men­ted ch­an­ge con­trol sys­tem for the eva­lua­ti­on and im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of changes.

  • Va­li­da­ti­on pro­to­cols: Phar­maceu­ti­cal pro­ces­ses and equip­ment must be va­li­da­ted to en­su­re their re­lia­bi­li­ty and con­sis­ten­cy. This chap­ter em­pha­si­zes the si­gni­fi­can­ce of do­cu­men­ting va­li­da­ti­on pro­to­cols and the re­sults achieved.

The role of records

Ac­cu­ra­te and well-main­tai­ned re­cords are not only a re­gu­la­to­ry re­qui­re­ment, but a fun­da­men­tal aspect of en­su­ring pro­duct qua­li­ty and pa­ti­ent safe­ty. Chap­ter 4 out­lines the fol­lo­wing key points re­gar­ding the records:

  • Re­ten­ti­on pe­ri­ods: The chap­ter sets out the mi­ni­mum re­ten­ti­on pe­ri­ods for dif­fe­rent ty­pes of re­cords. It is of cru­cial si­gni­fi­can­ce for ma­nu­fac­tu­r­ers to ad­he­re to the­se gui­de­lines in or­der to fa­ci­li­ta­te in­spec­tions and audits. 
  • Data in­te­gri­ty: Data in­te­gri­ty is a cru­cial com­po­nent of re­cord kee­ping. Re­cords must be ac­cu­ra­te, com­ple­te and tam­per-pro­of to pre­vent data ma­ni­pu­la­ti­on or fraud.

Is the implementation of the EU GMP guidelines, chapter 4 mandatory?

Com­pli­ance with EU GMP Gui­de­line, Chap­ter 4 is not op­tio­nal, but man­da­to­ry for phar­maceu­ti­cal ma­nu­fac­tu­r­ers ope­ra­ting wi­thin the Eu­ro­pean Uni­on. This way you can en­su­re ef­fec­ti­ve implementation:

  • Trai­ning: Make sure your per­son­nel are well trai­ned in do­cu­men­ta­ti­on prac­ti­ces and un­der­stand the si­gni­fi­can­ce of ac­cu­ra­te re­cord keeping. 
  • Qua­li­ty assu­rance: Es­tab­lish a ro­bust qua­li­ty con­trol sys­tem to re­view and ap­pro­ve all do­cu­ments and records. 
  • Tech­no­lo­gy: In­vest in mo­dern do­cu­ment ma­nage­ment sys­tems and elec­tro­nic re­cords to op­ti­mi­ze the do­cu­men­ta­ti­on process. 
  • Au­di­ting: Con­duct re­gu­lar in­ter­nal au­dits to iden­ti­fy and cor­rect de­via­ti­ons from the guidelines.


The EU GMP Gui­de­line, Chap­ter 4 is an im­portant chap­ter in the world of phar­maceu­ti­cal ma­nu­fac­tu­ring. It sets the stan­dards for do­cu­men­ta­ti­on, en­su­ring pro­duct qua­li­ty, tracea­bi­li­ty and com­pli­ance with le­gal re­qui­re­ments. By fol­lo­wing the gui­de­lines and best prac­ti­ces out­lined in this chap­ter, phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies can ful­fill their ob­li­ga­ti­on to bring safe and ef­fec­ti­ve me­di­ci­nes to market.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the main ob­jec­ti­ve of the EU GMP Gui­de, Chap­ter 4?
EU GMP Gui­dance, Chap­ter 4 aims to en­su­re that phar­maceu­ti­cal ma­nu­fac­tu­ring pro­ces­ses are well do­cu­men­ted, stan­dar­di­zed and in com­pli­ance with re­gu­la­to­ry requirements.

How long should phar­maceu­ti­cal re­cords be kept in ac­cordance with this chap­ter?
The chap­ter sets dif­fe­rent re­ten­ti­on pe­ri­ods for dif­fe­rent ty­pes of re­cords, but it is cri­ti­cal to fol­low them con­sci­en­tious­ly. For ex­am­p­le, batch do­cu­ments should ge­ne­ral­ly be kept for at least one year af­ter the ex­pi­ra­ti­on date of the product.

Can elec­tro­nic re­cords com­ple­te­ly re­place pa­per-ba­sed re­cords?
Alt­hough elec­tro­nic re­cords are re­com­men­ded for ef­fi­ci­en­cy, some pa­per-ba­sed re­cords, such as batch do­cu­ments, may still be ne­ces­sa­ry for cer­tain pro­ces­ses. It is im­portant to main­tain the in­te­gri­ty and au­then­ti­ci­ty of both elec­tro­nic and pa­per-ba­sed records.

What hap­pens if a phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny does not com­ply with EU GMP gui­de­lines, chap­ter 4?
Non-com­pli­ance can have se­rious con­se­quen­ces, in­clu­ding re­gu­la­to­ry me­a­su­res, pro­duct re­calls and da­ma­ge to com­pa­ny re­pu­ta­ti­on. Com­pli­ance is a top prio­ri­ty for phar­maceu­ti­cal companies.

Are the­re re­sour­ces to un­der­stand and im­ple­ment this chap­ter?
Yes, re­gu­la­to­ry aut­ho­ri­ties of­ten pro­vi­de gui­dance and trai­ning ma­te­ri­als to as­sist phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in un­der­stan­ding and im­ple­men­ting the EU GMP Gui­dance, Chap­ter 4.

How can a phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny keep up to date with the la­test re­vi­si­ons and up­dates to this chap­ter?
It is cru­cial to stay in­for­med about up­dates to the EU GMP Gui­de, Chap­ter 4. Com­pa­nies can re­gu­lar­ly check the web­site of the re­le­vant re­gu­la­to­ry aut­ho­ri­ty or vi­sit in­dus­try as­so­cia­ti­ons for up­dates and trai­ning opportunities.

Which do­cu­ments are re­qui­red ac­cor­ding to GMP in chap­ter 4?
In ac­cordance with GMP, Chap­ter 4 lists the do­cu­ments re­qui­red by GMP that must be in­cluded in the do­cu­men­ta­ti­on. This in­cludes the site mas­ter file, re­gu­la­ti­ons, logs and re­ports on ac­tions in ac­cordance with the regulations.

What should be de­fi­ned in the manufacturer’s qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment sys­tem?
The va­rious do­cu­ment ty­pes and the me­dia used should be de­fi­ned in the manufacturer’s qua­li­ty ma­nage­ment system.

What con­trols should be in place to en­su­re do­cu­ment ac­cu­ra­cy?
Con­trols should be in place to en­su­re the ac­cu­ra­cy, cor­rect­ness, avai­la­bi­li­ty and le­gi­bi­li­ty of the documents.

To which do­cu­ments do the abo­ve aspects ap­p­ly?
The aspects men­tio­ned ap­p­ly to both pa­per-ba­sed and elec­tro­nic do­cu­men­ta­ti­on sys­tems as well as hy­brid systems.

Why is elec­tro­nic data of­ten used for re­se­arch pur­po­ses, even if pa­per prin­touts are available?
Elec­tro­nic data is of­ten used for re­se­arch pur­po­ses, as pa­per prin­touts can­not usual­ly be con­side­red com­ple­te and elec­tro­nic data con­ta­ins ad­di­tio­nal in­for­ma­ti­on such as raw data and metadata.

What re­qui­re­ments ap­p­ly to pa­per prin­touts with re­gard to elec­tro­nic data?
Pa­per prin­touts must con­tain clear re­fe­ren­ces that re­fer to the cor­re­spon­ding elec­tro­nic data.

When is elec­tro­nic batch re­lease man­da­to­ry in ac­cordance with Chap­ter 4?
An elec­tro­nic batch re­lease is man­da­to­ry in ac­cordance with Chap­ter 4 if the data is pri­ma­ri­ly available in elec­tro­nic form.

What are the re­qui­re­ments for com­plex sys­tems, in­clu­ding soft­ware?
Com­plex sys­tems, in­clu­ding soft­ware, must be va­li­da­ted and re­gu­lar­ly che­cked, as pre­scri­bed in Chap­ter 4 of the EU GMP guidelines.

What needs to be con­side­red when ma­king ch­an­ges or ent­ries in do­cu­ments?
Any ch­an­ges or ent­ries in a do­cu­ment must be si­gned and da­ted. The ori­gi­nal in­for­ma­ti­on must be stored in such a way that it can be re­trie­ved and the re­ason for the ch­an­ge must be logged.

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