Podcast: How to Perform Chemotherapy Drug Permeation Testing

Podcast: How to Perform Chemotherapy Drug Permeation Testing

A growing number of our clients need biological and chemical resistance testing such as the evaluation of permeation resistance of gloves (or other types of PPE or fabrics) to chemotherapy drugs. This podcast will discuss our chemotherapy drug permeation testing capabilities and services designed to help manufacturers independently verify product performance. In this episode, HP White’s President, John Cronin, and Chief Scientist and Technical Advisor for the Cortland PPE team, Jason Allen, walk you through the drug permeation testing process from the moment a client’s testing material arrives at the loading dock all the way to the final delivery of test reports.


John: I’m John Cronin with HP White Laboratory. We are an Intertek company that specializes in testing of personal protective equipment and ballistics for firearms, ammunition, vehicle armor and other life safety equipment. As an Intertek company, we’re part of a global conformity assessment and testing organization with over 36,000 employees in over 120 countries. Today, we’re focusing on a Cortland, New York non-ballistic personal protective equipment test lab. This lab is located within a massive test facility with over 300,000 square feet under roof dedicated to testing a broad range of products. At Cortland, our PPE test team provides a single source for testing of all forms of personal protective equipment from head to toe, for firefighting, for hazmat, chemical, microbiological threats, fall protection and much more. Literally from head to toe. If it’s intended to protect a personnel, we’d probably test it in Cortland. Our Chief Scientist and Technical Advisor for the Cortland PPE team is Jason Allen. Today, I’ll be speaking with him about our chemotherapy drug permeation testing capabilities and how we can help manufacturers verify product performance and provide their customers with the independent test data they need to feel safe and confident in buying equipment that has been validated by a trusted third party like Intertek. Jason, thank you very much for joining me. Please start things off by telling everyone a little bit about your background and your career with Intertek.

Jason: Yeah, thanks, John. I’ve worked at Intertek a little over 14 years. I have a couple degrees — one in physics and one in mechanical engineering. Throughout the years, I’ve participated in multiple committees — seven NFPA, three ASTM — and I’m a subject matter expert for the Interagency Board.

John: Thanks, Jason. So, we test lots of different types of gloves in our chemistry and microbiology labs for penetration and permeation against various types of toxic industrial chemicals and bloodborne pathogens. We’re also hearing from many customers that they want to test protective gloves to evaluate permeation resistance to chemotherapy drugs. How do we do that at Cortland today?

Jason: Yeah, the most common test method for this type of testing is ASTM D6978, which is the standard practice for the assessment of resistance of medical gloves to permeation by chemotherapy drugs. It’s a test that uses the ASTM F739 cell to challenge a material. So we put the chemotherapy drug on one side, the barriers in the middle, and then on the backside, we simulate the inside of the glove or what’s up against the skin, and we can actually monitor how much of that chemical permeates through the barrier material.

John: That’s great. Jason, to do this, do we need any kind of special equipment?

Jason: Yeah. We use liquid chromatography mass spectrometry on this, which is LCMS. It’s a type of analytical equipment that’s typically used in the pharmaceutical industry or other areas where you want highly sensitive instruments. It can measure chemicals down to the ppb levels. This is also used within the pharmaceutical industry, primarily, to be sure that you end up with safety and pure drugs.

John: Okay, that’s great. So, we can test now gloves for penetration and permeation resistance against toxic industrial chemicals, bloodborne pathogens and potentially dangerous drugs like chemotherapy drugs. That’s for gloves, but are there other types of products that can also benefit from this kind of testing?

Jason: Sure. The standard does have “glove” in the name, but there’s definitely nothing that stops us from using it against other types of PPE or fabrics. In the past, we’ve tested medical gown sleeves, hair and shoes covers, almost any type of product, again, that you can fit inside this ASTM cell, you can test for permeation. We typically do that through modifying the test method. We have over 30 years of experience in this space, so we have pretty significant background to draw from to be sure that we’re creating an accurate and reliable test.

John: That’s great. And, Jay, how long does it generally take to complete this kind of test?

Jason: Typically, it falls around four to six weeks, depending on how many products are involved and which specific chemotherapy drugs the manufacturer would like used. The typical testing, we start with the base seven chemicals, and we’ll always have those chemicals on hand. Then the two additional are the ones that sometimes cause slight delays, but we have a lot of those optional chemicals on-hand as well. We also have the option for the client who would like to accelerate their testing for batch release or something like that, in which, as long as we can coordinate things back and forth with the manufacturers, we’re able to produce results within 72 hours of sample receipt.

John: That’s great. Okay, so Jason, you mentioned a highly-experienced staff, you mentioned specialized equipment. Is this kind of testing expensive?

Jason: Actually, John, it’s not too bad because we really operate in a production-type environment where we’re able to quickly and accurately just push the samples from the time it receives at the dock, all the way through production into reporting. We do this through specialized equipment, specialized training and so on. One of the other areas that we can quickly turn around, a lot of times manufacturers need pricing quickly, so we’re able to generate those quotes quickly within 24 hours or so. Anyone that would like a quote can reach us in three different ways. You can either call me at 607-753-6711, or you can email me at jason.allen@intertek.com, or you can Google “PPE testing” and we’ll usually show up right near the top of the results.

John: That’s great, Jay. So, thanks very much for providing contact details, but when somebody does reach out to you, what kind of things do you generally talk about?

Jason: We typically have two different types of clients. This first type is doing core research, so they’re typically on products that aren’t yet on the market, or maybe it’s a new application for those products. In those situations, we really leverage the complete organization that we have here and the vast experience and equipment that we have so we can do physical properties, chemistry, microbiology, heat and flame, human factors and so on on the materials just to help accelerate that R&D process. The second way we can help manufacturers who already have established products that are kind of ready to be released into the market, we help them through either generating independent test data or we can help get the products certified for them through our various different relationships that we have with certification agencies.

John: That’s great. So, Jason, you’ve been doing this now for 14 years. This really sounds like a labor of love. What is it about this that you like?

Jason: Yeah, John, it’s a great opportunity here. We’re always working with new products and over the last 15 years or so, I’ve seen a huge evolution in both products and test standards. It’s really great to help the manufacturers get the products out into the hands of the people who need them.

John: That’s great. Jason, thank you so much for your time today and sharing your knowledge with us. I really appreciate it and I want to thank everybody who’s listening and encourage you to check back frequently as we plan to do a series of these podcasts covering a broad range of testing topics. In particularly, we’ll be focusing on new test standards as they come down the market to try to keep our customers informed. As those new test standards are released, we’ll be releasing more of these podcasts to keep you informed to help you get your safe products to market faster, so thank you very much for listening.