It certainly is acceptable to push back, but you need to be able to do that in a professional and politically correct manner. The best way to do that is to push back during the course of the audit or while the inspection is still in progress. If the investigator indicates that he or she has a particular concern, it is important to first understand their concerns, make sure they are not misinterpreting your quality system or your process or procedure, and make sure you have presented all your appropriate artifacts and objective evidence.
USDM does this during readiness assessments to make sure that if there are any observations, issues, or concerns being raised that the organization has had every opportunity to present proper documents or proper objective evidence. The burden is on you to make sure that you are presenting your case and defending your procedure. FDA investigators don’t go out of the way to ask you to present all of the evidence in support of your rationale, scientific justification, or basis for your process or procedure. You can do that in a professional and politically correct manner in order to respectfully challenge them. If they’ve indicated they have an observation or a notice of violation, take that opportunity to make sure you have presented your case and presented all of your evidence.
Many issues can be resolved during the course of an investigation. If the inspection is concluded and you receive the report and there are observations there that you do not agree with or that you don’t find inaccurate, you can respond in your written response and you can indicate any additional information, artifacts, or rational. You can certainly provide additional information in the response to the Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) but in USDM’s experience, it’s better to resolve any issues while the inspection is still ongoing. Many times you can resolve issues on the spot so they don’t show in the report as a comment or a 483.
USDM Life Sciences has a combination of over 100 years in regulatory compliance, Quality Assurance, Quality Systems and auditing. USDM’s auditors in the Global Audits Practice Team perform audits on Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Medical Device companies in the US and abroad.