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Artel's QA/QC services driving expansion

By Dr Matt Wilkinson , 14-Oct-2008

 

With big pharma and biopharma looking to cut costs and increase efficiency, liquid handling experts Artel have found that their services are in greater need than ever before.

This growing need for liquid handling quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) products and services has led to Artel opening a new office in Montreal, Canada, so that the company can provide technical support and training to help laboratories optimize their liquid handling operations and improve the quality of their data.

Artel made its name with the introduction of instruments that enable researchers to check the accuracy of handheld and automated liquid handling devices, the PCS (Pipette Calibration System) and MVS (Multichannel Verification System).

The PCS and MVS instruments use a ratiometric photometry approach to measure the amount of liquid dispensed, rather than the more laborious gravimetric weighing techniques.

Inaccurate pipetting can lead to inaccurate data generation, expensive QA/QC issues and problems with regulatory bodies if the errors remain undetected until after products have been released.

“One of the challenges we face when adding up the potential costs of liquid handling error is that it depends on where the error is made and when it is spotted,” said Kirby Pilcher, President of Artel.

“If a pharmaceutical company is audited by the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and a facility is shut down for QA/QC reasons, a new product introduction is delayed, staff members are let go and then the share price goes down the cost of those errors are huge; on the other hand for a simple handling error the cost could be as small as having to redo one morning’s work, which while costing time, effort and materials is relatively minor.”

With regulatory requirements constantly changing, Artel has found that its customers want more than just a company to provide an instrument and service it; they want a partner that will ensure they have the correct systems and procedures in place to avoid being exposed to the cost of error.

“We like to spend time with our customers to familiarise ourselves with what they do and how they do it so we can show that we are more than just a vendor or a service provider; but that we can be a partner that can help them make the right decisions about liquid handling quality assurance and avert the risks of non-compliance or missing out on the next blockbuster drug,” said Hazem Zanoun, Applications Specialist and head of the new Canadian office.

The company has recently introduced a Pipette Quality Management System that helps laboratories implement an in-house pipette calibration process and integrate it into existing workflows.

“The Pipette Quality Management System offers a complete solution for customers, enabling laboratories to maintain in-house control over pipette calibrations while outsourcing the labour-intensive setup, training and validation steps,” said Pilcher.

“It’s more than just a means to verify and diagnose a pipette, it’s a way of managing it, keeping track of it from the day it enters the building, knowing where it is, who is operating it, the skill of the people using it, what tests they are using it for and ensuring it stays calibrated and verified throughout its lifecycle.”

According to Zanoun, the company’s service offering helps ensure traceability throughout laboratory workflow while making sure regulations are adhered to.

“These services are the fastest growing part of Artel’s business and with Canada being Artel’s second largest market it made sense to open a new office in Montreal,” said Zanoun.

“Canada is the world’s fourth fastest growing life science market and yet like everywhere else in the world laboratories are lacking resources and have a growing need for our services, whether its simply installing and validating equipment or helping customers optimise their liquid handling instruments and procedures.”

The success of the Pipette Quality Management System offering has led Artel to draw up plans for an evolutionary iteration of the offering that according to Pilcher: “will be much more service orientated and involve regular visits from Artel personnel to take even more of the burden off laboratory managers.”

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