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Why the Health Care Industry Needs a New Approach to Automated Testing

Previous attempts to give automated testing a new approach have often disappointed for want of a coherent strategy: let's make sure the second generation of testing works better.

Neglect of effective automated testing could be costing businesses millions in lost sales, wasted time and missed opportunities. According to one model, failure to use automated testing appropriately can cost a health care company well over 200 million over the life of a single product. This estimate reflects misuse of highly trained staff, delayed launches and output levels that fall short of potential. Investing in the right automation programme at the right time could eliminate all this waste.

Why Automation is Imperative

The complexity and high standard of testing required in both R&D and manufacturing are such that, on paper at least, it seems clear that automation is now the only way to go. To understand the arguments, let us consider just one type of product: an inhaler. The testing requirements specified by regulatory authorities for an item like this include content uniformity, weight uniformity, emitted dose uniformity, bulk assay, fine particle fraction and impurities to name a few. Running all these tests manually eats up effort and lab space, and diverts analysts who have far better things to do with their time. Automating the tests not only frees up resources, but also increases speed, accuracy and consistency.


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By Adrian Howson, Managing Consultant in Health Care Process Development at PA Consulting Group

Adrian Howson is a Managing Consultant in Health care Process Development at PA Consulting Group. Since joining PA he has specified, built and implemented a number of automated processes for the manufacture and validated testing of pharmaceutical and medical products for many major organisations. He is a founding member of the UK Institute of Mechanical Engineer's Pharmaceutical Committee, a newly formed body that aims to promote the knowledge and application of mechanical engineering across the pharmaceutical industry.

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