The results of cross-contaminations can be disastrous in the pharmaceutical industry. For customers, it can lead to illness or even death. For businesses, it can spell staggering costs to a company’s finances and reputation. Knowing how to avoid cross-contamination in pharmaceuticals is essential to protecting patients’ safety and your company’s longevity. There are three types of contamination that a company may experience: physical, chemical, and biological. Each requires a different strategy.
Physical contamination involves solid objects, such as particles and fibers, entering a particular substance. To avoid pharmaceutical cross-contamination of this type, begin by identifying potential sources. Some sources may include:
- Cleaning brushes with bristles
- Clothing prone to shed like knit sweaters
- Loose hairs
- Dust in the facility or on machinery
Most of these are relatively simple to avoid. Use cloths for washing, implement uniforms that include non-shedding materials and hairnets, and be sure that you tightly seal containers against dust.
Chemical contamination is the addition of moisture, gas, or vapors to a product. Typically, this occurs in storage. If a company manufactures multiple products that use the same machinery, residue from one product can end up in another product. In other cases, the container’s material may react to the product or a cleaning substance, which then contaminates subsequent batches. To avoid this, follow pharmaceutical storage best practices, including regular cleaning and choosing non-reactive materials like stainless steel.
The prefix “bio” translates to “life.” Biological contamination refers to a living substance entering a product, such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi. This usually occurs when creating products in a non-sterile environment. This includes both the machinery and the ingredients used to make the product, such as water. While an area can never be completely “sterile,” companies can do their part by enforcing cleaning and employee handwashing.
Cross-contamination is a serious issue in pharmaceuticals. Fortunately, by being aware of the risks and the ways products become contaminated, we can keep these incidents from happening.