Protecting Healthcare Workers by Detecting Contamination from Hazardous Antineoplastic Drugs

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Antineoplastic drugs, also known as anti-cancer drugs or chemotherapy, are used in the treatment of many types of cancer. Exposure of healthcare workers to antineoplastic drugs from contaminated surfaces and drug vials in hospitals and pharmacies is a continuing problem since the drugs can cause skin problems, birth defects, reproductive issues, and increased risk of various cancers. (more)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed technology to rapidly detect three commonly used antineoplastic drugs. (The technology is applicable to many types of antineoplastic drugs.) CDC NIOSH’s partners at Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD) licensed, further developed, and incorporated the technology into a portable device. The resulting tool, the BD™ HD Check system, can analyze samples for doxorubicin and methotrexate (two common chemotherapy drugs), and provide reliable results in less than 10 minutes.

CDC NIOSH’s Research to Practice Office coordinated communications with all involved parties. CDC’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) handled the first agreements, patent applications, and licensing. The CDC Team at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Office oversaw licensing and patenting on CDC TTO’s behalf beginning in October 2013.

In April 2018, BD launched the HD Check system in the U.S. to strong interest from the pharmacy and nursing communities. BD expects to make the product commercially available in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia in 2019. NIOSH and BD will continue research to potentially incorporate additional hazardous drugs in the rapid detection kits.

Currently, an estimated 8 million U.S. healthcare workers are potentially exposed to antineoplastic drugs. Workers prepare, administer, or dispose of antineoplastic drugs when providing chemotherapy to cancer patients. Traditional sampling methods to test for surface contamination produce results in several weeks, involve significant expense, and require analysis in a laboratory. CDC and BD’s new technology empowers healthcare workers to test surfaces when and where needed, and quickly determine the level of contamination in areas where hazardous antineoplastic drugs are present.

Contact: Jerry Smith, (513) 533-8394,