The United States Pharmacopeia describes the use of antiseptics and disinfectants in chapter 1072 as important components of a contamination control program, especially for aseptic processing.1 In a section entitled, “Selection of an Antiseptic for Hand and Surgical Site Disinfection,” the chapter lists the following antiseptic agents for use in a program of hand hygiene as well as by cleanroom operators in the pharmaceutical industry: isopropyl alcohol, hexachlorophene, chlorhexidine, povidone-iodine, and chlorhexidine alcohol. Of these, only isopropyl alcohol and povidone iodine have universal acceptance for safety and efficacy for use in industry (pharmaceutical, vaccine, tissue bank) or healthcare practice.2,3,4 Ethyl alcohol solution, the most frequently used hand antiseptic,5 is not mentioned by the USP in this connection.
We have performed a series of comparative experiments on the speed and range of activity of antiseptics likely to be used in areas requiring aseptic or sanitary practice, including the less frequently studied effects against viruses. The fact that these agents are “narrow spectrum” (and not “broad spectrum” as with bacteria) is important information that will be discussed in this paper. This knowledge may well discourage their use when there is a transmission danger regarding certain respiratory or enteric viruses.
Even though it is recognized that antiseptics can decrease cross-contamination in pharmaceutical production areas, R & D labs, cleanrooms, and support areas,5 it is the purpose of this paper to analyze the laboratory methods that researchers use in the development of such agents.
Authors: Herbert N Prince, Ph.D., Daniel L. Prince, Ph.D.