BKC as disinfectant

Infection prevention in the healthcare industry: Benzalkonium Chloride as a disinfectant

Disinfectants have an important role to play in our society, helping to prevent the occurrence or spread of infections by rapidly deactivating the harmful pathogens that cause them – be they viruses, bacteria, or fungi. From hand washes and sanitisers to surface disinfectants, laundry detergents, skin and wound care solutions, a wide variety of disinfectant products help us to keep our skin and our environments as clean as possible.

Benzalkonium Chloride (BKC) is part of a family of cationic surfactants known as Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, often shortened to Quats. Quats are common ingredients found in disinfectant products due to their antimicrobial activity. By adsorbing onto the cytoplasmic membrane of microbes, Quats damage the structural integrity of cell membranes. This enables them to inactivate gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and lipophilic (enveloped) viruses.

Novo Nordisk Pharmatech supplies pharmaceutical-grade Quats ingredients to the healthcare industry. These include cGMP-manufactured Benzalkonium Chloride products with proven efficacy against a broad spectrum of microorganisms.

Benzalkonium Chloride is one of the most widely used Quats, with a range of application areas stretching from household and industrial cleaning solutions to personal care and pharmaceutical products like solutions, shampoos and creams with antiseptic properties.

This article will explore the important role of Benzalkonium Chloride as a disinfectant in healthcare applications.

Hand sanitisers and washes

Thanks to its ability to deactivate a long list of enveloped viruses (including enteroviruses, rotaviruses, influenza virus, coronavirus, rhinovirus, chlamydia, herpes simplex, and hepatitis A), as well as bacteria and fungi, Benzalkonium Chloride is often used as the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in hand sanitisers and hand washes, particularly those intended for clinical settings.

In a hospital environment, infection prevention is of high concern. Anything that comes into contact with a patient’s body must be clean, meaning doctors and nurses must adhere to strict hand washing regimens. In addition, medical devices and instruments require thorough sterilisation in order to be considered safe for use.

Benzalkonium Chloride is widely used in hospital settings to disinfect hands and devices (please contact Novo Nordisk Pharmatech to discuss the appropriate type of regulations applying to specific uses and geographical areas). Its efficacy against coronavirus made it particularly instrumental during the Covid-19 pandemic, when an emphasis on cleanliness and good hand hygiene became a global priority across hospitals.

BKC solutions for direct topical application normally contain between 0.1% and 0.5% of the active ingredient. In hospital settings, this may be even higher (between 5 and 15%) since the solutions must be further diluted before use. It is also important to note that in a high pH formulation, the efficacy of the BKC increases. This means lower concentrations may be required.

Many hospitals also use BKC disinfectants to wipe down surfaces, ensuring a sterile place for patients and lowering the chance of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections.

Antiseptic creams

Treating wounds and skin conditions carefully is important in avoiding infection and ensuring timely healing of the skin. This requires effective antiseptic creams used to gently yet thoroughly disinfect the epithelial tissue. Antiseptic products are commonly found within first aid kits and medicine cabinets for this reason.

Sometimes the ingredients used in soaps can worsen or trigger dry skin conditions. In this scenario, a doctor may recommend or prescribe patients an antiseptic cream, often containing Benzalkonium Chloride, to keep the area clean. Healthcare workers also use antiseptic products before carrying out medical procedures, such as drawing blood or performing surgeries, to lower the risk of infection.

Benzalkonium Chloride is a trusted API for all these applications. It has a long history of use in wound care formulations, typically at concentrations of 0.01% to 0.1%. For skin conditions like nappy rash, eczema, psoriasis, and acne, it may be used at concentrations varying from 0.1% to 1% to act on the microorganism causing or worsening the issue.

FeF Benzalkonium Chloride

At Novo Nordisk Pharmatech, we have been producing Quats for over 70 years. Our long history, expertise, and innovative synthesis process make us the pharmaceutical industry’s leading supplier of Benzalkonium Chloride, alongside our other Quats products.

By manufacturing high-quality Benzalkonium Chloride for the healthcare industries, we help companies produce the formulations needed to protect the world from infections.
Our cGMP-manufactured FeF Benzalkonium Chloride comes with the promise of quality, purity, and consistency – all of which are integral to the pharmaceutical, personal, and health care industries. The product is odourless, colourless, effective through a wide pH range, and with a shelf life of five years. Finally, we offer an extensive range of documentation to help our customers meet the regulatory requirements needed to register their disinfectant products on the market.

Read more about our company here.

Chantale Julien
Product Manager

Phone: +45 4029 7906
Email: chju@novonordisk.com