As demands on pharmaceuticals change, so does the packaging

Convertech, Inc.

Good story at Packaging Digest:

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are navigating a changing marketplace. There’s greater variety in drug-delivery formats to support new formulations, new modes of dosing, and new users—in many cases the patients themselves. There’s also greater demand for item identification and tracking to support more-complex supply chains. PMP News asked Jeff Benedict, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Sharp Packaging Solutions, to weigh in on these changes, the challenges they present, and some potential solutions.

PMP: Can you describe some of the specific challenges the pharmaceutical industry is currently facing?

Benedict: As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve in the types of drug and biologic therapies it develops and where it delivers these products, we believe it is facing many challenges. There is the rising complexity of supply chains due to the diversity of drug-delivery mechanisms and the industry’s global footprint, an escalating increase in counterfeiting and diversion, and the continuous evolution and reengineering of companies as a result of the many mergers and acquisitions. Also, the new drugs being developed to meet new therapeutic categories often dictate new drug technologies, delivering these medications in different formats depending on the patient. This development sets up a whole new way of looking at drug delivery and its related package. Along with this, comes the challenge of identifying these products throughout the delivery chain and establishing the right IT infrastructure to capture the product data, store it, integrate it, and then share it where appropriate.

PMP: How are requests for drug-delivery and packaging evolving, and how can Sharp help?

Benedict: Sharp has been following closely the different formats of drugs in the industry. We have tremendous capacity in the United States and Europe to handle standard typical oral dose products requiring blisters and bottles, but we can also support, in both our Allentown and Netherlands packaging facilities, the high cost and highly divertible Schedule II drugs, distribution of which is pretty much controlled by the DEA.

In addition, we have made significant investments to expand our equipment platforms to support the ever-evolving drug-delivery challenges. Drug-delivery systems and packaging evolutions have evolved massively from oral tablets, a syringe, or a transdermal patch, to many different formats of delivery systems from the buccal and the oral thin-film dissolvable applications to single-unit syringes with a safety needle where the patient does the dose in the hospital or at home. As a result, our packaging lines have evolved to handle projects such as microdose powder filling into cartridges and different biologic applications for specific therapeutic categories such as vials and autoinjector pens. For these biologics, we don’t do sterile fill, but we do label, carton, kit, and serialize. For instance, we would take a vial, label it, put it in a kit with multiple syringes and different type of literature that might be patient required, serialize at all levels, carton it, and cold-chain ship. 

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