Strategies for High Containment - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Strategies for High Containment
Experts share insight on facility design and operations for high-potency manufacturing.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Technological advances

Q. PharmTech: What are some recent technological advances in facility and equipment design for high-potency manufacturing?

Cascone (Metrics): Many equipment vendors are pre-engineering their equipment to be contained whereas in the past this was considered an optional upgrade. New equipment is more modular in nature. Product-contact modules can be cleanly removed from drive units and disassembled and cleaned in remote washing areas. This reduces downtime and exposure risks.

Bormett (SAFC): There has been an increasing interest in the use of disposable containment options for potent-compound handling, especially for larger-scale operations. Disposable systems reduce the time for cleaning and can eliminate the potential for cross-contamination. They also may be used as secondary isolation around fixed equipment to improve overall containment of the process to meet lower OELs. Improvements in local exhaust systems, with proper filtration for potent-compound capture, also have been implemented to further reduce potential exposure to employees or the facility.

The integration of two types of equipment, in some instances by two different equipment vendors, is also an area that has seen improvement. This could include engineering glovebox isolation equipment onto Nutsche filter/dryers or lyophilisers to allow for containment during discharge of potent compounds.

Iliopoulos (Euticals): There is a growing trend in powder processing. Closed systems for powder handling and special valves are being developed along with engineering advances in the equipment used to contain the highly potent APIs or hazardous compounds. The term containment itself directs engineers in developing methodologies and structures to isolate the highly potent compounds. Charging materials to reactors, discharging a centrifuge, charging of a mill and packaging in closed systems are becoming popular practices in dealing with highly hazardous substances produced in multipurpose facilities. Traditional technologies are not easy to clean, and the risk of material remaining on the surfaces is too high. Disposables used in the use of closed system solve these problems, but have limitations with some solvents. Some examples of currently used isolation technologies using disposables are drum-sampling, dispensing, transfer sleeves, filter-change containment, decontamination and cleaning containment. The benefit is that with low investment, one can achieve the desired containment level. I am sure that the future development will be focused in the development of isolation technologies at the level of dust generation.

Nettleton (Cambrex): With improved awareness and hazard recognition related to high-potency API development and manufacturing, there is a greater appreciation of proper risk management associated with HPAPI handling in general. Industry leaders are working to move away from administrative containment strategies to more robust engineering controls. Specifically in regards to micronisation of HPAPIs, Cambrex maintains GMP micronisation suites equipped with high-level containment engineering controls. These containment systems units have demonstrated performance to 1 ng/m3.

Doherty (Ferro): What I am seeing is a lot of small improvements to potent-handling equipment, such as better means of cleaning split butterfly valves that are providing continuous improvement in containment. These small improvements should not be underestimated in their beneficial impact.

Moderated by Patricia Van Arnum, executive editor of Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.


1. ISPE, ISPE Good Practice Guide: Assessing the Particulate Containment Performance of Pharmaceutical Equipment (2nd Edition, Tampa, FL, May 2012).

2. ISPE, Baseline Guide: Risk-Based Manufacture of Pharmaceutical Products (Risk-MaPP) (Tampa, FL, Sept. 2010).

3. ICH Q9, Quality Risk Management (Nov. 2005).

4. EMA, Concept Paper on the Development of Toxicological Guidance for Use in Risk Identification in the Manufacture of Different Medicinal Products in Shared Facilities (London, Oct. 2011).

5. M. S. Maier, Toxicol. Mech. Methods 21 (2), 76–85 (2011).


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