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September 22 2022

Behind the scenes with Orianna Marcon

Pharmaceuticals

We are back in the Mérieux NutriSciences Italia Science Centre, dedicated to complex activities requiring the coordination of several Project Managers. Orianna Marcon is the expert dedicated to the foreign particles identification in pharmaceutical products.

Read the interview #BehindTheScenes.

You are the Sherlock Holmes of Mérieux NutriSciences Italia, can you explain why this nickname?
My job is to identify foreign particles, meaning substances whose origin and composition are unknown. This information is essential, without which the manufacturer does not know how to eliminate this foreign presence from its product. These impurities can often cause health problems for the end user. It is very important to be able to give an accurate and quick response to the customer who may have recalled product batches, or have production stopped, or, last but not least, have to answer to the person who made the alert, which could be a third party.

A huge responsibility…
Yes absolutely, every study is different. Experience is crucial in these cases, sometimes it happens that I have a very limited sample quantity just enough to perform one testing, and if I do not find the right combination of analytical techniques, I completely lose any chance of providing the solution.

You are not only an expert in foreign particles in Pharma, but you are also the reference person for product defects in the Food division. So, what is the common denominator?
All investigations are different; the common point is that there is no one procedure to apply. As I was saying before, the experience that leads me in one direction rather than the other.

What is the difference between Food and Pharma analysis?
Foreign particles in pharmaceuticals are certainly very challenging because they are always very small, especially when dealing with injectable products. Once I had a single 200µm particle available as a sample for the analysis! Almost a mission impossible, meaning that experience is crucial for both the choice of the analysis process to follow and the execution of each test. I finally managed to correctly identify the particle, a great satisfaction!

If someone wanted to take the same career, what skills would absolutely should have?
Passion is important, stress is very high and you must always remain focused on the goal, which is to answer the customer correctly and in the shortest possible time! A critical attitude and sideways thinking are indispensable: the instrument will not give you an answer with the data provided, it is the analyst who has to think about the correct strategy. Last but not least, the ability to communicate with both customers and colleagues. These analyses often require equipment in other laboratories – which themselves have their own work to do and certainly cannot delay it – so it is necessary to be able both to communicate the importance of the analysis being performed and to know how to ask advice from those who master that technique every day.

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