Pharmacie des HUG
Rue Gabrielle Perret-Gentil, 4 - 1211 Genève 14


La recherche fait partie intégrante des activités de notre laboratoire. Notre principal axe de recherche est l’analyse des médicaments anticancéreux mais également l’analyse de principes actifs utilisés en pharmacie hospitalière. Vous retrouverez ci-dessous les publications scientifiques publiées ces dernières années.


Development and application of a liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry method for the simultaneous determination of 23 antineoplastic drugs at trace levels

S. Fleury-Souverain, J. Maurin, D. Guillarme, S. Rudaz, P. Bonnabry

J Pharm Biomed Anal 2022 Nov 30:221:115034. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2022.115034. 


The goal of this study was to develop a method for the simultaneous quantification of 23 commonly used antineoplastic drugs in a hospital pharmacy, using ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography separation coupled to tandem mass spectrometry detection (UHPLC-MS/MS). The following drugs were investigated: 5-fluorouracil, cytarabine, ganciclovir, gemcitabine, dacarbazine, methotrexate, pemetrexed, busulfan, topotecan, rentitrexed, ifosfamide, cyclophosphamide, etoposide, irinotecan, doxorubicin/epirubicin, vincristine, docetaxel, paclitaxel, daunorubicin, idarubicin, vinblastine, oxaliplatin and carboplatin. The chromatographic separation was performed on a phenyl-hexyl column (2.1 x 100 mm, 1.7 µm) with a gradient elution of methanol and water containing 10 mM ammonium formate adjusted to pH 4.9. All compounds were analyzed in less than 13 min and detected with a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer operating in MRM mode. Limits of detection (LODs) and limits of quantification (LOQs) were comprised between 0.01 and 5 ng.mL-1, and between 0.5 and 5 ng.mL-1, respectively. Accuracies ranged between 117% and 83% at the LOQ, intermediate and upper LOQ concentrations, with relative standard deviations (RSD) inferior to 8%, for all the antineoplastic drugs. Finally, the UHPLC-MS/MS method was successfully applied to the analysis of surface samples to evaluate the chemical contamination by these highly toxic compounds in a chemotherapy preparation unit in a hospital pharmacy with the purpose of monitoring the exposure of health care professionals. 


Wipe-sampling procedure optimisation for the determination of 23 antineoplastic drugs used in the hospital pharmacy

Nicolas Guichard, Julien Boccard, Serge Rudaz, Pascal Bonnabry and Sandrine Fleury Souverain
European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy Published Online First: 17 July 2019. doi: 10.1136/ejhpharm-2019-001983


Purpose: Optimise a wipe sampling procedure to evaluate the surface contamination for 23 antineoplastic drugs used in the hospital pharmacy.

Methods: The influence of various parameters (ie, sampling device, sampling solution, desorption modes) was evaluated using a validated liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method able to quantify 23 antineoplastic drugs widely used in the hospital pharmacy: 5-fluorouracil, busulfan, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, dacarbazine, daunorubicin, docetaxel, doxorubicin, epirubicin, etoposide, etoposide phosphate, fludarabine phosphate, ganciclovir, gemcitabine, idarubicin, ifosfamide, irinotecan, methotrexate, paclitaxel, pemetrexed, raltitrexed, topotecan and vincristine. Best conditions were tested with real samples from a hospital pharmacy chemotherapy compounding unit.

Results: Polyester swabs (TX714 and TX716) gave satisfactory results for the desorption step for all compounds with mean recoveries of 90% and 95%, respectively. For the wiping step, higher recoveries were obtained using TX716 and isopropanol 75% as wiping solution. As anticipated, most intense contaminations were found close to the chemotherapy production site, on surfaces the most frequently in contact with operators’ hands.

Conclusion: Wipe sampling method was successfully developed and applied to real samples to determine surface contamination with 23 antineoplastic agents in trace amounts.


Validation and uncertainty estimation for trace amounts determination of 25 drugs used in hospital chemotherapy compounding units

Guichard N, Rudaz S, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S.
J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2019 Apr 22;172:139-148. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2019.04.042


The validation and uncertainty assessment of the analytical method developed for the simultaneous determination of 25 anticancer drugs commonly handled in hospital pharmacy was reported. Selected compounds were 5-fluorouracil, cytarabine, fludarabine phosphate, ganciclovir, gemcitabine, dacarbazine, methotrexate, pemetrexed, busulfan, raltitrexed, etoposide phosphate, topotecan, ifosfamide, cyclophosphamide, irinotecan, doxorubicin, epirubicin, daunorubicin, idarubicin, vincristine, vinblastine, vinorelbine, docetaxel and paclitaxel. Accuracy and uncertainty profiles were obtained for all compounds. Quantitative performances were satisfactory in term of specificity, sensitivity, precision and accuracy. Repeatability (1.9-25.4%) and intermediate precision (2.7-29%) were determined for all target compounds. Lower limits of quantification between 1 and 25 ng/mL were obtained. Uncertainty associated to measurement of routine samples was evaluated. The multi-targeted method was specific and reliable and was successfully applied to wipe samples from hospital pharmacy chemotherapy compounding unit and to the determination of outside contamination of vials from pharmaceutical manufacturers.


Computer-assisted UHPLC-MS method development and optimization for the determination of 24 antineoplastic drugs used in hospital pharmacy

Guichard N, Fekete S, Guillarme D, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S.
J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018 Nov 6;164:395-401. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2018.11.014


This study reports the use of retention modeling software for the successful method development of 24 injectable antineoplastic agents. Firstly, a generic screening of several stationary and mobile phases (using various organic modifiers and pH) was achieved. Then, an optimization procedure of mobile phase temperature, gradient profile and mobile phase binary composition was conducted through only 28 real experiments using retention modeling software for data treatment. Finally, the optimized separation was achieved with a mobile phase consisting in 10 mM acetic acid at pH 5.1 (A) and acetonitrile (B). A Waters CORTECS® T3 column (100 × 2.1 mm, 1.6 μm) operated at 25 °C with a gradient time of 17.5 min (0-51%B) at a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min was used. The prediction offered by the retention model was found to be highly reliable, with an average error lower than 1%. A robustness testing step was also assessed from a virtual experimental design. Success rate and regression coefficient were evaluated without the need to perform any real experiment. The developed LC-MS method was successfully applied to the analysis of pharmaceutical formulations and wiping samples from working environment.


Determination of 16 antineoplastic drugs by capillary electrophoresis with UV detection: Applications in quality control

Guichard N, Ogereau M, Falaschi L, Rudaz S, Schappler J, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S.
Electrophoresis. 2018 Oct;39(20):2512-2520. doi: 10.1002/elps.201800007


Two capillary electrophoresis (CE) methods were developed for the analysis of 16 antineoplastic drugs contained in injectable pharmaceutical formulations. A capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) method coupled to UV was developed with a background electrolyte (BGE) made of a 100 mM phosphate buffer at pH 2.5 containing 50% v/v of acetonitrile and dynamic coating of capillaries with Ceofix®. This method allowed the analysis of doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, daunorubicin, irinotecan, topotecan, vincristine, vindesine, vinblastine, and vinorelbine in less than 8 min. A micellar electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC) method coupled to UV was also developed for the determination of methotrexate, pemetrexed, etoposide, etoposide phosphate, fludarabine phosphate, and 5-fluorouracil. A run time of 16 min was obtained with a BGE made of 50 mM borate buffer at pH 9.2 with 80 mM of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and 20% v/v of acetonitrile. For both methods, the applied voltage was 30 kV and the sample injection was performed in the hydrodynamic mode. All analyses were carried out in fused silica capillaries with an internal diameter of 50 μm and a total length of 64.5 cm. Both methods were validated and trueness values between 99.4 and 101.3% were obtained with repeatability and intermediate precision values of 0.5-1.8% for all drugs. These methods were found appropriate for controlling injectable pharmaceutical formulations containing antineoplastic drugs and successfully applied in quality control.


Stability of busulfan solutions in polypropylene syringes and infusion bags as determined with an original assay

Guichard N, Rudaz S, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S.
Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2017 Nov 15;74(22):1887-1894. doi: 10.2146/ajhp160516


Purpose: The stability of busulfan solution in 0.9% sodium chloride and stored in polypropylene syringes or infusion bags was evaluated.

Methods: Busulfan solutions (0.54 mg/mL) were prepared and transferred to 50-mL polypropylene syringes and 100- and 500-mL polypropylene infusion bags and stored at 2-8 and 23-27 °C. Chemical stability was measured using a stability-indicating, ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry method. The stability of busulfan was assessed by measuring the percentage of the initial concentration remaining at the end of each time point of analysis. The initial busulfan concentration was defined as 100%. Stability was defined as retention of at least 90% of the initial busulfan concentration. A visual inspection of the samples for particulate matter, clarity, and color without instrumentation of magnification was conducted at each time point of analysis.

Results: The visual inspection demonstrated no influence of the storage container when busulfan infusions diluted in 0.9% sodium chloride injection were stored at 23-27 °C. No color change or precipitate was observed at this temperature; however, a rapid decrease of the busulfan content in all containers stored at room temperature was observed. Busulfan in syringes was chemically stable for 12 hours, while busulfan in infusion bags (100 and 500 mL) was stable only for 3 hours at 23-27 °C.

Conclusion: Busulfan 0.54-mg/mL solution in 0.9% sodium chloride injection was physically and chemically stable for 30 hours when stored in 50-mL polypropylene syringes at 2-8 °C and protected from light.

Current possibilities of liquid chromatography for the characterization of antibody-drug conjugates

Bobály B, Fleury-Souverain S, Beck A, Veuthey JL, Guillarme D, Fekete S
J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018 Jan 5;147:493-505. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2017.06.022


Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) are innovative biopharmaceuticals gaining increasing attention over the last two decades. The concept of ADCs lead to new therapy approaches in numerous oncological indications as well in infectious diseases. Currently, around 60 CECs are in clinical trials indicating the expanding importance of this class of protein therapeutics. ADCs show unprecedented intrinsic heterogeneity and address new quality attributes which have to be assessed. Liquid chromatography is one of the most frequently used analytical method for the characterization of ADCs. This review summarizes recent results in the chromatographic characterization of ADCs and supposed to provide a general overview on the possibilities and limitations of current approaches for the evaluation of drug load distribution, determination of average drug to antibody ratio (DARav), and for the analysis of process/storage related impurities. Hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC), reversed phase liquid chromatography (RPLC), size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and multidimensional separations are discussed focusing on the analysis of marketed ADCs. Fundamentals and aspects of method development are illustrated with applications for each technique. Future perspectives in hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC), HIC, SEC and ion exchange chromatography (IEX) are also discussed.

Antineoplasatic drugs and their analysis : a state-of the art review

Guichard N, Guillarme D, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S
Analyst. 2017 Jul 7;142(13):2273-2321. doi: 10.1039/c7an00367f


The number of patients suffering from cancer is constantly increasing and, consequently, the number of different chemotherapy treatments administered is increasing. Given the high reactivity and toxicity of antineoplastic drugs, analytical methods are required in all pharmaceutical fields, from drug development to their elimination in wastewater; including formulation quality control, environment and human exposure and therapeutic drug monitoring. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the analytical methods available for the determination of antineoplastic drugs in different matrices such as pharmaceutical formulations, biological and environmental samples. The applicability and performance of the reported methods will be critically discussed, with focus on the most commonly used antineoplastic drugs. Only conventional compounds and small molecules for targeted therapy will be considered in the present review.

Long-term stability of ganciclovir in polypropylene containers at room temperature

Guichard N, Bonnabry P, Rudaz S, Fleury-Souverain S.
J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2017 Jan 1. doi: 10.1177/1078155217732629


Purpose Ganciclovir is increasingly provided by hospital pharmacy production unit in a ready-to-use form, in order to improve the safety of healthcare workers and the efficiency of the organisation. The objective of this study was to develop a stability-indicating method to assay ganciclovir and determine the stability of ganciclovir in syringes (5 mg/mL) and infusion bags (0.25 and 5 mg/mL) at two different temperatures. Method Ganciclovir solutions (0.25 mg/mL and 5 mg/mL) in 0.9% sodium chloride were prepared in 50 mL polypropylene syringes or 100 mL polypropylene infusion bags and stored at 2-8℃ and 23-27℃. The chemical stability was measured using a stability-indicating Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry method. Physical stability was assessed by visual inspection. Results No significant loss of ganciclovir under any of the tested conditions was observed in this study. All solutions remained clear through the study period. Conclusion All tested formulations remained stable for at least 185 days independently of container type, temperature or concentration studied.


Dynamics of active pharmaceutical ingredients loads in a Swiss university hospital wastewaters and prediction of the related environmental risk for the aquatic ecosystems

Daouk S, Chèvre N, Vernaz N, Widmer C, Daali Y, Fleury-Souverain S.
Sci Total Environ. 2016 Mar 15;547:244-253. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.117


The wastewater contamination of a Swiss university hospital by active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) residues was evaluated with a three months monitoring campaign at the outlet of the main building. Flow-proportional samples were collected with an automatic refrigerated sampler and analyzed for 15 API, including antibiotics, analgesics, antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory drugs, by using a validated LC-MS/MS method. The metals Gd and Pt were also analyzed using ICP-MS. Measured concentrations were compared to the predicted ones calculated after the drug average consumption data obtained from the hospital pharmacy. The hospital contribution to the total urban load was calculated according to the consumption data obtained from city pharmacies. Lastly, the environmental hazard and risk quotients (RQ) related to the hospital fraction and the total urban consumption were calculated. Median concentrations of the 15 selected compounds were ranging from 0.04 to 675 μg/L, with a mean detection frequency of 84%. The ratio between predicted and measured environmental concentrations (PEC/MEC) has shown a good accuracy for 5 out of 15 compounds, revealing over- and under-estimations of the PEC model. Mean daily loads were ranging between 0.01 and 14.2g/d, with the exception of paracetamol (109.7 g/d). The hospital contribution to the total urban loads varied from 2.1 to 100% according to the compound. While taking into account dilution and removal efficiencies in wastewater treatment plant, only the hospital fraction of the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole showed, respectively, a high (RQ>1) and moderate (RQ>0.1) risk for the aquatic ecosystems. Nevertheless, when considering the total urban consumption, 7 compounds showed potential deleterious effects on aquatic organisms (RQ>1): gabapentin, sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin, piperacillin, ibuprofen, diclofenac and mefenamic acid. In order to reduce inputs of API residues originating from hospitals various solutions can be envisioned. With results of the present study, hospital managers can start handling this important issue.


Evaluation of chemical contamination of surfaces during the preparation of chemotherapies in 24 hospital pharmacies

Sandrine Fleury-Souverain, Marc Mattiuzzo, Florence Mehl, Susanne Nussbaumer, Lucie Bouchoud, Ludivine Falaschi, Marianne Gex-Fabry, Serge Rudaz, Farshid Sadeghipour, Pascal Bonnabry
Science of the Total Environment, 547, 244-253 doi: 10.1136/ejhpharm-2014-000549


Purpose To evaluate the chemical contamination of surfaces by cytotoxic agents during preparation of injectable chemotherapies in hospital pharmacies.

Methods: 526 wipe samples collected in 24 Swiss hospital pharmacies were analysed using a validated liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry method able to quantify 10 cytotoxic agents: cytarabine, gemcitabine, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, methotrexate, etoposide phosphate, irinotecan, doxorubicin, epirubicin and vincristine. Information on chemotherapies produced, equipment and production processes used were collected from all the hospital pharmacies on a voluntary basis in order to investigate their association with contamination rates.

Results: In two pharmacies, no trace of the 10 cytotoxic agents was detected. Chemical contamination was found in the other 22 hospital pharmacies, with combined total contamination of the 10 cytotoxic agents ranging from 8 ng to more than 41 000 ng per sample. Most contaminated samples came from inside biosafety cabinets, but some came from other clean room areas and logistics rooms. Statistically significant associations were observed between contamination rates and sampling locations, the number of chemotherapies prepared per year and types of cleaning solutions used.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that most of the hospital pharmacies tested had some contamination of surfaces by different cytotoxic agents. Even if highest levels of contamination were mainly detected inside biosafety cabinets, technicians were also exposed to cytotoxic agents detected in logistical and storage areas. Protective measures should therefore be maintained or even reinforced in these areas in order to limit technicians’ risks of exposure when handling cytotoxic products.

Efficacy of two cleaning solutions for the decontamination of 10 antineoplastic agents in the biosafety cabinets of a hospital pharmacy

Anastasi M, Rudaz S, Queruau Lamerie T, Odou P, Bonnabry P, Fleury-Souverain S
Ann Occup Hyg. 2015 Aug;59(7):895-908. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mev031


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate two cleaning solutions for the chemical decontamination of antineoplastic agents on the surfaces of two biosafety cabinets routinely used for chemotherapy preparation in a hospital pharmacy.

Methods: For almost 1 year (49 weeks), two different solutions were used for the weekly cleaning of two biosafety cabinets in a hospital pharmacy’s centralized cytotoxic preparation unit. The solutions evaluated were a commercial solution of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and water (70:30, vol:vol), and a detergent solution constituted by 10(-2)M of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) with 20% IPA. Seven areas in each biosafety cabinet were wiped 14 times throughout the year, before and after the weekly cleaning process, according to a validated procedure. Samples were analyzed using a validated method of high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. The decontamination efficacy of these two solutions was tested for 10 antineoplastic agents: cytarabine, gemcitabine, methotrexate, etoposide phosphate, irinotecan, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, doxorubicin, epirubicin, and vincristine.

Results: Overall decontamination efficacies observed were 82±6% and 49±11% for SDS solution and IPA, respectively. Higher contamination levels were distributed on areas frequently touched by the pharmacy technicians-such as sleeves and airlock handles-than on scale plates, gravimetric control hardware, and work benches. Detected contaminations of cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, gemcitabine, and cytarabine were higher than those of the others agents. SDS solution was almost 20% more efficient than IPA on eight of the antineoplastic agents.

Conclusion: Both cleaning solutions were able to reduce contamination levels in the biosafety cabinets. The efficacy of the solution containing an anionic detergent agent (SDS) was shown to be generally higher than that of IPA and, after the SDS cleaning procedure, biosafety cabinets demonstrated acceptable contamination levels.

Prioritization methodology for the monitoring of active pharmaceutical ingredients in hospital effluents

Daouk S, Chèvre N, Vernaz N, Bonnabry P, Dayer P, Daali Y, Fleury-Souverain S
J Environ Manage. 2015 Sep 1;160:324-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.06.037


The important number of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) available on the market along with their potential adverse effects in the aquatic ecosystems, lead to the development of prioritization methods, which allow choosing priority molecules to monitor based on a set of selected criteria. Due to the large volumes of API used in hospitals, an increasing attention has been recently paid to their effluents as a source of environmental pollution. Based on the consumption data of a Swiss university hospital, about hundred of API has been prioritized following an OPBT approach (Occurrence, Persistence, Bioaccumulation and Toxicity). In addition, an Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) allowed prioritizing API based on predicted concentrations and environmental toxicity data found in the literature for 71 compounds. Both prioritization approaches were compared. OPBT prioritization results highlight the high concern of some non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antiviral drugs, whereas antibiotics are revealed by ERA as potentially problematic to the aquatic ecosystems. Nevertheless, according to the predicted risk quotient, only the hospital fraction of ciprofloxacin represents a risk to the aquatic organisms. Some compounds were highlighted as high-priority with both methods: ibuprofen, trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, ritonavir, gabapentin, amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, raltegravir, propofol, etc. Analyzing consumption data and building prioritization lists helped choosing about 15 API to be monitored in hospital wastewaters. The API ranking approach adopted in this study can be easily transposed to any other hospitals, which have the will to look at the contamination of their effluents.


Determination of the external contamination and cross-contamination by cytotoxic drugs on the surfaces of vials available on the Swiss market

Fleury-Souverain S, Nussbaumer S, Mattiuzzo M, Bonnabry P.
J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2014 Apr;20(2):100-11. doi: 10.1177/1078155213482683


Introduction: The external contamination and cross-contamination by cytotoxic drugs on the surface (outside and septum) of 133 vials from various manufacturers and available on the Swiss market were evaluated. All of the tested vials contained one of the following active ingredients: cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, doxorubicin, epirubicin, etoposide phosphate, gemcitabine, ifosfamide, irinotecan, methotrexate or vincristine.

Methods and materials: The validated wiping liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method used in this study allowed for the simultaneous determination of these 10 cytotoxic drugs in less than 30 min.

Results: External contamination by cytotoxic drugs was detected on 63% of tested vials (outside and septum). The highest contamination level was observed on etoposide phosphate vials with 1896.66 ng of active ingredient on the outside of the vial. Approximately 20% of the contaminated vials had greater than 10 ng of cytotoxic drugs. Chemical contamination on the septum was detected on 38% of the vials. No contamination or very low levels of cytotoxic drugs, less than 1 ng per vial, were detected on the vials protected by plastic shrink-wrap. Traces of cytotoxic drugs different from the active ingredient were detected on 35% of the tested vials.

Conclusion: Handling cytotoxic vials with gloves and having a procedure for the decontamination of vials are of the utmost importance for reducing exposure to cytotoxic drugs. Moreover, manufacturers must improve their procedures to provide products free from any contamination.


Evaluation of decontamination efficacy of cleaning solutions on stainless steel and glass surfaces contaminated by 10 antineoplastic agents

Queruau Lamerie T, Nussbaumer S, Décaudin B, Fleury-Souverain S, Goossens JF, Bonnabry P, Odou P
Ann Occup Hyg. 2013 May;57(4):456-69. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mes087


Objectives: The handling of antineoplastic agents results in chronic surface contamination that must be minimized and eliminated. This study was designed to assess the potential of several chemical solutions to decontaminate two types of work surfaces that were intentionally contaminated with antineoplastic drugs.

Methods: A range of solutions with variable physicochemical properties such as their hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance, oxidizing power, desorption, and solubilization were tested: ultrapure water, isopropyl alcohol, acetone, sodium hypochlorite, and surfactants such as dishwashing liquid (DWL), sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), Tween 40, and Span 80. These solutions were tested on 10 antineoplastic drugs: cytarabine, gemcitabine, methotrexate, etoposide phosphate, irinotecan, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, doxorubicin, epirubicin, and vincristine. To simulate contaminated surfaces, these molecules (200ng) were deliberately spread onto two types of work surfaces: stainless steel and glass. Recovered by wiping with a specific aqueous solvent (acetonitrile/HCOOH; 20/0.1%) and an absorbent wipe (Whatman 903®), the residual contamination was quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to mass spectrometry. To compare all tested cleaning solutions, a performance value of effectiveness was determined from contamination residues of the 10 drugs.

Results: Sodium hypochlorite showed the highest overall effectiveness with 98% contamination removed. Ultrapure water, isopropyl alcohol/water, and acetone were less effective with effectiveness values of 76.8, 80.7, and 40.4%, respectively. Ultrapure water was effective on most hydrophilic molecules (97.1% for cytarabine), while on the other hand, isopropyl alcohol/water (70/30, vol/vol) was effective on the least hydrophilic ones (85.2% for doxorubicin and 87.8% for epirubicin). Acetone had little effect, whatever the type of molecule. Among products containing surfactants, DWL was found effective (91.5%), but its formulation was unknown. Formulations with single surfactant non-ionics (tween 40 and span 80) or anionic (SDS) were also tested. Finally, solutions containing 10(-2) M anionic surfactants and 20% isopropyl alcohol had the highest global effectiveness at around 90%. More precisely, their efficacy was the highest (94.8%) for the most hydrophilic compounds such as cytarabine and around 80.0% for anthracyclines. Finally, the addition of isopropyl alcohol to surfactant solutions enhanced their decontamination efficiency on the least hydrophilic molecules. Measured values from the stainless steel surface were similar to those from the glass one.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that all decontamination agents reduce antineoplastic contamination on work surfaces, but none removes it totally. Although very effective, sodium hypochlorite cannot be used routinely on stainless steel surfaces. Solutions containing anionic surfactant such as SDS, with a high efficiency/safety ratio, proved most promising in terms of surface decontamination.


Chemical contamination during the preparation of cytotoxics: a multi-site simulation study

M. Mattiuzzo, S. Nussbaumer, F. Sadeghipour, S. Fleury-Souverain, P. Bonnabry

European Journal of Hospital Pharmay, 19, 144


Background: Although an effort is always made to reduce contamination, traces of cytotoxic drugs can be found in the environment. External surfaces of vials can be a source of contamination, but the operators themselves also contribute to this problem during manipulation.

Purpose: To quantify the chemical contamination generated by a large panel of operators during a standard preparation process, using a non-toxic tracer in a multi-site simulation.

Materials and methods: Preparation was simulated voluntarily by operators in Swiss hospital pharmacies. Each operator had to reconstitute 3 vials of quinine diHCl powder (200 mg) with 5 mL of water and dilute them in 3 saline solution infusion bags (50 mL). A standard procedure was used, using only one 10 and one 20 mL syringe, 2 needles and 15 gauze compresses, creating a worst-case scenario. Contamination on vials, bags, gloves and compresses was analysed by a validated fluorimetric method (λex=345 nm, λem=448 nm, LOD (limit of detection) =0.3 ng/mL or 15 nL and LOQ (limit of quantification) =1 ng/mL or 50 nL at pH 3.0).

Results:  Sixty-two operators in 24 hospitals (1 to 5 per hospital) participated in the study. 95% of operators contaminated at least one object. Mean total contamination was 78 µL (0 to 596 µL). Compresses were the most contaminated items (mean 72 µL, 0 to 592 µL). Contamination also occurred on gloves (0.2 µL, 0 to 59 µL), bags (0.7 µL, 0 to 24 µL), quinine vials (0.2 µL, 0 to 16 µL) and water vials (0.02 µL, 0 to 0.8 µL).

Conclusions:  A simple validation protocol for chemical contamination, using a non-toxic tracer, enables the ability of operators to avoid spillage to be checked. It demonstrated wide variability between operators in a multi-site survey. Such a simulation tool is of the utmost importance in the context of the operator's initial and continuing training and qualification.



Evaluation de la contamination chimique externe de flacons de cytotoxiques disponibles sur le marché Suisse

S. Fleury-Souverain, S. Nussbaumer, M. Mattiuzzo, P. Bonnabry.
Le Pharmacien Hospitalier et Clinicien 47, 67


Quality control of pharmaceutical formulations containing cisplatin, carboplatin and oxaliplatin by micellar and microemulsion electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC, MEEKC)

Nussbaumer S, Fleury-Souverain S, Schappler J, Rudaz S, Veuthey JL, Bonnabry P.
J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 May 15;55(2):253-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2011.01.029


A micellar electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC) method was developed for the determination of cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxaliplatin in pharmaceutical formulations. The background electrolyte consisted of a phosphate buffer (pH 7.0; 25 mM) with sodium dodecyl sulfate (80 mM). The applied voltage was 30 kV and the sample injection was performed in the hydrodynamic mode. All analyses were carried out in a fused silica capillary with an internal diameter of 50 μm and a total length of 64.5 cm. The detection of target compounds was performed at 200 nm. Under these conditions, a complete separation of cisplatin, carboplatin and oxaliplatin was achieved in less than 10 min. The MEKC-UV method was validated and trueness values between 99.7% and 100.8% were obtained with repeatability and intermediate precision values of 0.7-1.4% and 1.1-1.7%, respectively for the three drugs. This method was found appropriate for controlling pharmaceutical formulations containing platinum complexes and successfully applied in quality control at the Geneva University Hospitals.

Wipe sampling procedure coupled to LC-MS/MS analysis for the simultaneous determination of 10 cytotoxic drugs on different surfaces

Nussbaumer S, Geiser L, Sadeghipour F, Hochstrasser D, Bonnabry P, Veuthey JL, Fleury-Souverain S
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Mar;402(8):2499-509. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5157-2


A simple wipe sampling procedure was developed for the surface contamination determination of ten cytotoxic drugs: cytarabine, gemcitabine, methotrexate, etoposide phosphate, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, irinotecan, doxorubicin, epirubicin and vincristine. Wiping was performed using Whatman filter paper on different surfaces such as stainless steel, polypropylene, polystyrol, glass, latex gloves, computer mouse and coated paperboard. Wiping and desorption procedures were investigated: The same solution containing 20% acetonitrile and 0.1% formic acid in water gave the best results. After ultrasonic desorption and then centrifugation, samples were analysed by a validated liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in selected reaction monitoring mode. The whole analytical strategy from wipe sampling to LC-MS/MS analysis was evaluated to determine quantitative performance. The lowest limit of quantification of 10 ng per wiping sample (i.e. 0.1 ng cm(-2)) was determined for the ten investigated cytotoxic drugs. Relative standard deviation for intermediate precision was always inferior to 20%. As recovery was dependent on the tested surface for each drug, a correction factor was determined and applied for real samples. The method was then successfully applied at the cytotoxic production unit of the Geneva University Hospitals pharmacy.

Analysis of anticancer drugs: A review

Nussbaumer S, Bonnabry P, Veuthey JL, Fleury-Souverain S
Talanta. 2011 Oct 15;85(5):2265-89. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2011.08.034


In the last decades, the number of patients receiving chemotherapy has considerably increased. Given the toxicity of cytotoxic agents to humans (not only for patients but also for healthcare professionals), the development of reliable analytical methods to analyse these compounds became necessary. From the discovery of new substances to patient administration, all pharmaceutical fields are concerned with the analysis of cytotoxic drugs. In this review, the use of methods to analyse cytotoxic agents in various matrices, such as pharmaceutical formulations and biological and environmental samples, is discussed. Thus, an overview of reported analytical methods for the determination of the most commonly used anticancer drugs is given.


Simultaneous quantification of ten cytotoxic drugs by a validated LC-ESI-MS/MS method

Nussbaumer S, Fleury-Souverain S, Antinori P, Sadeghipour F, Hochstrasser DF, Bonnabry P, Veuthey JL, Geiser L.
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010 Dec;398(7-8):3033-42. doi: 10.1007/s00216-010-4243


A liquid chromatography separation with electrospray ionisation and tandem mass spectrometry detection method was developed for the simultaneous quantification of ten commonly handled cytotoxic drugs in a hospital pharmacy. These cytotoxic drugs are cytarabine, gemcitabine, methotrexate, etoposide phosphate, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, irinotecan, doxorubicin, epirubicin and vincristine. The chromatographic separation was carried out by RPLC in less than 21 min, applying a gradient elution of water and acetonitrile in the presence of 0.1% formic acid. MS/MS was performed on a triple quadrupole in selected reaction monitoring mode. The analytical method was validated to determine the limit of quantification (LOQ) and quantitative performance: lowest LOQs were between 0.25 and 2 ng mL(-1) for the ten investigated cytotoxic drugs; trueness values (i.e. recovery) were between 85% and 110%, and relative standard deviations for both repeatability and intermediate precision were always inferior to 15%. The multi-compound method was successfully applied for the quality control of pharmaceutical formulations and for analyses of spiked samples on potentially contaminated surfaces.

Dernière mise à jour : 18/03/2024

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