Last Review: December 2005
All pharmacies should follow standard operating procedures to ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of the pharmacy. All areas of the pharmacy, including the walls, ceilings, floors, countertops, equipment, small objects, etc. should be cleaned. More stringent procedures must be followed if the pharmacy compounds sterile preparations to meet the standards of USP Chapter <797>. In addition, there should be procedures for cleaning and sanitizing the hands of personnel.
Cleaning, sanitizing, disinfection and sterilization may all be accomplished by appropriate chemical agents, or disinfectants. Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) names these chemical agents as "pesticides" or "microbiocides", they are more commonly called disinfectants in pharmacy.
The EPA places disinfectants into one of three distinct categories of surface chemical treatments based on their effectiveness against certain microorganisms: sanitizers, disinfectants, and sterilants. The EPA regulates all three categories and manufacturers must verify label claims of efficacy as well as register with the EPA before marketing in the United States. There are specific EPA standards for each claim, requiring strict laboratory testing and documentation. Below are definitions based on those provided by the EPA:
- Cleaning Agent: Low level of microbial reduction: Physical removal of soil, dust or organic material usually involving a brush and/or detergent and water.
- Sanitizing Agent: Intermediate level of microbial reduction: An agent that reduces vegetative contaminants by a significant number and does not leave a residue.
- Disinfecting Agent: high level of microbial reduction: A chemical that destroys vegetative forms of harmful microorganisms, but does not ordinarily kill bacterial spores. The EPA grants a disinfectant claim to any solution; which will destroy the following three microorganisms using an official Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) procedure: Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella choleraesuis. A disinfectant label does not imply or include efficacy against viruses, mycobacterium, protozoa or heat-resistant bacterial spores.
- Chemisteriliant (Sterilant) Agent: total microbial reduction: A chemical used to kill all microorganisms, including spores. Used to destroy or eliminate all forms of microbial life including fungi, viruses, and all forms of bacteria and their spores. Spores are considered to be the most difficult form of microorganism to destroy. Therefore, EPA considers the term "sporicide" to be synonymous with "sterilizing agent."
The purpose of this Disinfectant Database is to provide information on disinfectants arranged by category and names (brand and chemical). Additional information includes their main characteristics, properties (including concentrations, pH, use, etc) and appropriate references. It is important to note that the brand products cited in this database are available in the United States. These may vary from country to country as well as the regulations for these chemicals.
Keep in mind that one should consider implementing a disinfectant rotation schedule in the pharmacy and have an appropriate standard operating procedure for this activity, as well as SOPs on use, dilutions, storage, etc. of disinfectants.