February 13, 2013
ChemoGLO LLC, a spinoff company founded by two faculty members at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has developed Hazardous Drug Clean—or HDClean—a set of towlettes that removes contamination of hazardous drugs on surfaces.
The company has signed a licensing agreement with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the technology and will start offering HDClean in February.
Stephen Eckel, PharmD, and William Zamboni, PharmD, PhD, cofounders of ChemoGLO, say each packet of HDClean has two towlettes, each containing a novel mixture. When used in sequence, the towlettes can remove all detectable anticancer drug contamination commonly found on surfaces in places that prepare and administer chemotherapy, such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and labs.
“This contamination is very difficult to clean up because these drugs have very different solubilities,” says Zamboni, an associate professor at the School. “If you use just alcohol or just water, or even a mixture of the two, you can’t clean up the drugs.
“We worked through a bunch of different mixtures and ingredients to come up with towlettes that can clean a wide variety of drugs. We wanted to be able to clean up many different types of drugs, and we didn’t want any strong odor or oily residue. HDClean achieves all of those goals.”
Chemotherapy contamination has been a growing topic of concern in the United States. Eckel, the assistant director of pharmacy at UNC Hospitals and a leading expert on the issue, says studies have found that people involved in the preparation and administration of chemotherapy drugs are at risk of developing complications from the hazardous drugs.
Eckel and Zamboni began the work that eventually led to ChemoGLO in 2008, developing a reference lab and an easy-to-use wipe kit to detect surface contamination of anticancer drugs. In the past three years, that kit has been used in more than one thousand tests at more than three hundred hospitals in the United States. Eckel and Zamboni say 80 to 90 percent of the institutions they’ve tested had detectable surface contamination, and many had contamination levels that were ten to a hundred times higher than the concentration needed to kill cancer cells in vitro.
The idea to develop HDClean grew out of the company’s test results, which showed that in most cases, although implementing best practices such as using closed-system transfer devices helped reduce the amount of surface contamination, it didn’t eliminate all detectable concentrations.
“The idea for HDClean is that it would clean up, at the end of the day or the shift, any remnant that wasn’t mitigated through best practices,” says Eckel, an adjunct assistant professor at the School. “HDClean should not be used in place of best practices, but it provides one more solution to minimize the contact an individual has with hazardous drugs.”