Continuous Microbiological Environmental Monitoring for Process Understanding and Reduced Interventions in Aseptic Manufacturing

PDA J Pharm Sci Technol. Mar-Apr 2019;73(2):121-134. doi: 10.5731/pdajpst.2018.008722. Epub 2018 Oct 25.


This paper provides recommendations for quality oversight, manufacturing operations, and industry perspective of regulatory expectations to enable aseptic facilities to move toward real-time and continuous microbiological environmental monitoring, thereby reducing interventions and future replacement of Grade A settle plates and nonremote active air sampling. The replacement of traditional monitoring with biofluorescent particle-counting systems provides an improvement in process understanding and product safety and reduces operator manipulations, assuring product quality and real-time process verification. The future state pharmaceutical technology roadmaps include gloveless isolators with real-time and continuous monitoring for aseptic manufacturing.LAY ABSTRACT: This paper advocates the use of an alternative and relatively new method of monitoring the air for contamination in biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. The alternative method is based on a type of instrument the authors refer to as a biofluorescent particle counter (BFPC). The BFPC method has the advantage of being able to detect airborne microorganisms continuously and to record the actual time of detection. The replacement of traditional monitoring with BFPC systems can provide better data, which can be used to improve the understanding of contamination risks in complex manufacturing processes, ultimately providing more confidence in product safety. The authors present data showing the suitability of BFPC. This immediate result is very useful for picking up early any possible contamination and should, therefore, provide a better way to monitor and control the risk of contamination. As traditional monitoring methods require manual manipulation, an additional advantage of BFPC systems is that they can reduce manual manipulations. Elimination of all interventions is a goal in the industry, because although they are tightly controlled, interventions are an unwanted potential source of contamination.

Keywords: Biofluorescent particle counters; Environmental monitoring; Rapid microbiology.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology / standards
  • Drug Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Drug Industry / methods
  • Drug Industry / standards
  • Environment, Controlled*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical / methods*