I have been working as a laboratory technician at the LNS since June 2018, in the Technical platform for Analytical Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry of the Forensic Medicine Department. My main task is drug monitoring for the OMCL (Official Medicines Control Laboratory). As a trained pharmaceutical assistant and chemical technician, I previously worked for over 10 years in the quality control laboratory of a pharmaceutical company in Saarland, specialising in drug analysis. I became a “Fighter” in mid-April, when our service was commissioned by the Ministry of Health (MISA) to test medicines used in Luxembourg to treat the disease.
My responsibilities include the analysis and quality control of the drugs used in clinical trials (to alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19) through special testing methods. What’s particular about this situation is that these special drugs have not yet been approved for the European market or were not available there due to the current situation. Therefore, they had to be imported from non-EU countries (Taiwan and South Korea). In such cases, authenticity, active ingredient content and purity checks are mandatory. For these analyses we use mass spectrometry and UV spectroscopy, each coupled to a chromatographic separation method.
On a national level, we work closely with MISA and its Division de la Pharmacie et des Médicaments (DPM), and the temporarily formed Cellule de crise (Crisis Centre), who are the clients of the studies.
With a view to recording all the medicines tested in connection with COVID-19 studies by the national official control laboratories (OMCLs) in Europe, we are constantly in contact with the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and HealthCare (EDQM).
Due to the large number of tests carried out worldwide, there have been problems in ordering official reference substances. Analysis must also be carried out according to the official methods of the manufacturers. Obtaining the respective test methods required a lot of time and patience, as some of these methods first had to be translated from Chinese or Korean into English.
All the medicines purchased by the DPM in Taiwan and South Korea, used in Luxembourg and tested by us were compliant according to their specifications. It was good to see that international standards were followed and met.
I will invest the time I have gained back into the usual tasks and activities of our OMCL laboratory. In addition, I will be able to work on the new projects that are already being prepared in our unit.