Magazine article Drug Topics

Dangerous Levels of Drug Particles May Be Affecting Pharmacy Workers

Magazine article Drug Topics

Dangerous Levels of Drug Particles May Be Affecting Pharmacy Workers

Article excerpt

A study by AlburtyLab Inc. claims thousands of pharmacy workers are exposed to particles of airborne drugs. But the study has left some pharmacists and technology manufacturers questioning its methods and the motive of the company funding the study.

AlburtyLab and the University of Missouri Mass Spectrometry Facility carried out the study in five retail pharmacies to examine concentration levels, size characteristics, and chemical properties of pill dust generated by McKesson/Parata RDS Dispensing System, which uses air pressure to eject pills into prescription bottles, and ScriptPro SP 200 Robotic Prescription Dispensing System, which uses manual counting.

"This study is not really anything different than we've been saying for a long time in various ways," Michael Coughlin, CEO of ScriptPro, said. "Machines that use air pressure have some issues, we believe. We've been saying this to the industry since 2003."

The research indicates risk of airborne drug particles when pharmacists use air-pressure dispensing robots to fill prescriptions. The study also found that even pharmacists who manually dispense medications harm themselves by breathing a dangerous level of airborne particles. The study claimed that ScriptPro's 200 dispensing machines caused no elevated levels of pill dust.

ScriptPro LLC funded the study with an undisclosed amount of money, Coughlin said. But the company maintained that there is no conflict of interest because most studies are completed by people with a stake in the results.

Some pharmacists and other research- ers have said that ScriptPro's vested in- terest in this study skewed the results to show that the only safe way of dispensing medications is to use the fundert prod- uct. Amy H. Snow, a certified industrial hygienist and former Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance inspector, agrees.

"We don't design the studies," Coughlin said. …

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