Critical review of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy applications in the pharmaceutical field

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Graphical abstractHighlightsSERS is about to become a relevant analytical tool in pharmaceutical field.The review focuses of the different steps to develop a SERS quantitative method.Several pharmaceutical applications of SERS are reviewed.SERS analyses on simple and complex pharmaceutical matrices are summarized.SERS method validation and chemical imaging are in particular broached.Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a sensitive analytical tool used in the pharmaceutical field in recent years. SERS keeps all the advantages of classical Raman spectroscopy while being is more sensitive allowing its use for the detection and the quantification of low-dose substances contained in pharmaceutical samples. However, the analytical performance of SERS is limited due to the difficulty to implement a quantitative methodology correctly validated. Nevertheless, some studies reported the development of SERS quantitative methods especially in pharmaceutical approaches.In this context, this review presents the main concepts of the SERS technique. The different steps that need to be applied to develop a SERS quantitative method are also deeply described. The last part of the present manuscript gives a critical overview of the different SERS pharmaceutical applications that were developed for a non-exhaustive list of pharmaceutical compounds with the aim to highlights the validation criteria for each application.

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