Quality Assurance of Pharmaceuticals - A Compendium of Guidelines and Related Materials - Volume 1
(1997; 248 pages) [French] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contents1. National drug regulation
Close this folder2. Product assessment and registration
View the documentGuidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines1,2
Open this folder and view contentsStability of drug dosage forms1
Close this folderGuidelines for stability testing of pharmaceutical products containing well established drug substances in conventional dosage forms1
View the documentGeneral
View the documentDefinitions
View the document1. Stability testing
View the document2. Intended market
View the document3. Design of stability studies
View the document4. Analytical methods
View the document5. Stability report
View the document6. Shelf-life and recommended storage conditions
View the documentReferences
View the documentOfficial, international and national guidelines
View the documentAppendix 1. Survey on the stability of pharmaceutical preparations included in the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs: answer sheet
View the documentAppendix 2. Stability testing: summary sheet
Open this folder and view contentsMultisource (generic) pharmaceutical products: guidelines on registration requirements to establish interchangeability1
Open this folder and view contents3. Distribution
Open this folder and view contents4. The international pharmacopoeia and related activities
Open this folder and view contents5. Basic tests
Open this folder and view contents6. Laboratory services
Open this folder and view contents7. International trade in pharmaceuticals
Open this folder and view contents8. Counterfeit products
Open this folder and view contents9. Training
View the documentSelected WHO publications of related interest
View the documentBack cover

1. Stability testing

The main objectives and uses of stability testing are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Main objectives of stability testing


Type of study


To select adequate (from the viewpoint of stability) formulations and container-closure systems


Development of the product

To determine shelf-life and storage conditions

Accelerated and real-time

Development of the product and of the registration dossier

To substantiate the claimed shelf-life


Registration dossier

To verify that no changes have been introduced in the formulation or manufacturing process that can adversely affect the stability of the product

Accelerated and real-time

Quality assurance in general, including quality control

1.1 In the development phase

Accelerated stability tests provide a means of comparing alternative formula-dons, packaging materials, and/or manufacturing processes in short-term experiments. As soon as the final formulation and manufacturing process have been established, the manufacturer carries out a series of accelerated stability tests which will enable the stability of the drug product to be predicted and its shelf-life and storage conditions determined. Real-time studies must be started at the same time for confirmation purposes. Suitable measures should be taken to establish the utilization period for preparations in multidose containers, especially for topical use.

1.2 For the registration dossier

The drug regulatory authority will require the manufacturer to submit information on the stability of the product derived from tests on the final dosage form in its final container and packaging. The data submitted are obtained from both accelerated and real-time studies. Published and/or recently obtained experimental supporting stability data may also be submitted, e.g. on the stability of active ingredients and related formulations.

Where the product is to be diluted or reconstituted before being administered to the patient (e.g. a powder for injection or a concentrate for oral suspension), “in use” stability data must be submitted to support the recommended storage time and conditions for those dosage forms.

With the approval of the drug regulatory authority, a tentative (provisional) shelf-life is often established, provided that the manufacturer has undertaken, by virtue of a signed statement, to continue and complete the required studies and to submit the results to the registration authority.

1.3 In the post-registration period

The manufacturer must carry out on-going real-time stability studies to substantiate the expiry date and the storage conditions previously projected. The data needed to confirm a tentative shelf-life must be submitted to the registration body. Other results of on-going stability studies are verified in the course of GMP inspections. To ensure the quality and safety of products with particular reference to degradation, national health authorities should monitor the stability and quality of preparations on the market by means of a follow-up inspection and testing programme.

Once the product has been registered, additional stability studies are required whenever major modifications are made to the formulation, manufacturing process, packaging or method of preparation. The results of these studies must be communicated to the competent drug regulatory authorities.

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