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Understanding the FDA's Early Warning System: Field Alert Reports (FAR)


The FDA plays a critical role in safeguarding patient health, and to fulfill this responsibility, they rely on an early warning system known as Field Alert Reports (FAR). In this article, we will delve into what FAR is, when it is required, the different types of FAR, and when FAR is not necessary.

What is FAR?

FAR stands for Field Alert Report, and it serves as an early warning system to assist the FDA in ensuring patient safety and health. The primary purpose of FAR is to alert the FDA to potential issues with distributed drug products.

When to Raise a FAR

The responsibility of raising a FAR falls on the manufacturing company licensed to market and produce drug products in the US.

Here are the conditions that warrant the submission of a FAR:

1. Incorrect Labeling: If incorrect labeling occurs during the manufacturing process, and the affected batch is already in distribution.

2. Bacteriological Contamination: If there is a risk of contamination by bacteria, mold, viruses, or other microorganisms.

3. Chemical, Physical, or Other Changes: When there is a significant change or deterioration in the drug product's chemical or physical properties that could impact its quality, safety, identity, or efficacy.

4. Stability Study Findings: If stability studies reveal degradation products exceeding specification limits after the product has been distributed.

5. Packaging Issues: Any problems related to packaging components that do not meet specifications.

6. Customer Complaints: Customer complaints that meet the criteria outlined in FDA regulations (21 CFR 211.198 and 212.71)

Types of FAR

1. Initial FAR: The first submission regarding a specific problem, signaling the need for immediate action.

2. Follow-Up FAR: Subsequent submissions providing additional information about the problem identified in the initial FAR. This is often used to update the FDA on ongoing investigations or findings.

3. Final FAR: The submission that closes out the initial FAR by identifying the root cause and describing corrective actions taken or planned.

When FAR is Not Required

FAR is not necessary under certain conditions:

1. Undistributed Products: If a product has not been distributed, and an out-of-specification (OOS) result is discovered that is unrelated to distributed drug products.

2. Stability Testing Results: If an OOS result is identified during stability testing but is invalidated within three working days due to analytical error.

3. In-Process OS Results: If an OOS result is found during in-process testing for a batch that has not been manufactured or distributed.

Required Timeframe for Submitting FAR

FAR must be submitted within three working days of receiving the relevant information. Failure to do so can result in potential regulatory consequences, such as an FDA 483 observation during an audit.


Understanding the role of Field Alert Reports (FAR) is crucial for pharmaceutical companies, as they are responsible for safeguarding patient health and ensuring product quality. By adhering to the FDA's FAR requirements and timelines, companies can help maintain the integrity of the drug supply chain and protect the well-being of patients.

If you have any further questions or would like to add more insights on this topic, please feel free to share your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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