BOHS announced in a recent press release that its latest Bedford Prize has been awarded to a team from the University of Leuven in Belgium for a paper about the protection of pharmaceutical production workers from the potential harmful effects of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The “Thomas Bedford Memorial Prize” is BOHS’s oldest award, presented to lead authors of the most outstanding paper published in the Society’s journal, Annals of Occupational Hygiene. Sadly, the lead author of this paper, Nadine Van Nimmen, died of cancer at the age of 42, and was awarded her Ph.D. posthumously. The paper was based on part of this work; the Bedford Prize, which would have been presented to her at the BOHS Annual Conference in 2009, was sent to her family, also posthumously.

This paper presents very relevant occupational hygiene research into worker exposure to APIs, something which poses a significant challenge for the drug manufacturing industry. The authors have dealt with a particular agent, opioid narcotic analgesics, from the beginning to the end — by developing analytical methods for analyzing both dermal and air samples at very low concentrations, and then evaluating actual exposures in the field and recommending optimal control measures.

Commenting on the paper, the editor-in-chief of the Annals, Dr. Trevor Ogden, said, “This study is a very nice example of what occupational research is all about and how it should be performed.” The paper can be read in full or in abstract on the Annals Web site at http://annhyg.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/50/7/665.

The Bedford Prize is awarded every other year. Anyone can nominate papers to the shortlist, and the choice is then made by a panel of the journal Editorial Board and recent presidents of BOHS.