Pfizer to develop laser cleaning verification system

Pfizer ($PFE) hopes to find a faster way to do cleaning verification using lasers instead of swabs, a system it hopes will speed the process and make manufacturing more efficient. The drugmaker has hooked up with Block Engineering to develop a system using quantum cascade laser (QCL) spectroscopy, to try and create a real-time, noncontact system. Currently, the company swabs the walls of vessels and then analyzes those to make sure drug residue does not remain before moving on, a process that can take several hours. The idea with Block's technology, which is mostly used in defense and environmental work, is to eliminate this bottleneck and provide a hand-held, battery-operated, barcode-scanner-like device capable of providing real-time, noncontact verification. "Cleaning verification is a critical step in the drug manufacturing process and Pfizer is committed to the development of technologies that could decrease inspection times, reduce costs and improve supply assurance," said Steve Hammond, head of Pfizer's process analytical sciences group (PASG). Cross-contamination is an industry issue that can lead to recalls if it occurs. Release | More