Survey to assess procedures for handling cytotoxic drugs in academic research laboratories in the United Kingdom

Sabbagh Dit Hawasli, Racha, Kayyali, Reem, Barton, Stephen, Osei-Barnieh, Georges and Nabhani-Gebara, Shereen (2016) Survey to assess procedures for handling cytotoxic drugs in academic research laboratories in the United Kingdom. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 73(1), e59-e62. ISSN (print) 1079-2082


Purpose: The UK standard operating procedures mandate that trained pharmacists supervise the safe handling and preparation of hazardous drugs in healthcare settings. Researchers often handle cytotoxic drugs classified as hazardous in the laboratories of universities during their experiments, in the absence of special guidelines for these settings. The aim of this UK national survey is to gauge the current practice of cytotoxic handling in these cytotoxic academic research laboratories (CARLs). Methods: The survey used a 36-item online questionnaire targeting Health and Safety officers (H&SO) of academic institutions researching cytotoxic drugs. Invitations to participate in the survey, participant information sheets, and a link to complete the survey were all sent to the aforementioned officers. Results: 48.8% of H&SO (19/39) mentioned that the top two personnel groups that access the CARL are researchers and cleaning staff. Also, 48.8% of H&SO (19/39) disclosed that the latter are not aware of any special cleaning procedures required for these laboratories. 45.9% H&SO (17/37) reported that the staff at the reception point for cytotoxic drugs is neither aware of their risk nor notified of the content of the delivery. According to the H&SO, the required personal protective equipment in these laboratories was as follows; gloves (94.9%, 37/39), impermeable gown (59%, 23/39), mask (25.6%, 10/39), shoe cover (41%, 16/39), goggles (87.2%, 34/39). Conclusion: This audit reflects the repercussions of the lack of distinctive recommendations relating to cytotoxic manipulations in CARL. Professional pharmaceutical organizations are urged to set strategic plans to control unwanted cytotoxic contamination within academic institutions.

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