uct shelf-life, while opening up the potential for significant
advantages in reducing packaging complexity and the associated time spent on decision-making.
Limiting the number of agreed packaging variants cuts product cycle time and the analytical costs inherent in parallel stability testing. Add to this the downstream benefits operational
equipment efficiency (OEE) via faster change-overs, easier site
transfer projects, and overall economies of scale…and it’s easy
to see why global strategies founded on rationalised packaging
solutions are a key focus for the industry.
Moreover, with productivity targets for packaging operations becoming more ambitious year by year, increasing the
output from existing manufacturing facilities or meeting production budgets with lower capital expenditure are becoming key industry drivers. As a result, packaging processes
and equipment are selected with regards to achieving significant reductions of Cost of Goods (CoGs).
Adopting a comprehensive and rationalised packaging
strategy also plays well to a sustainability agenda focused
on achieving demonstrable reductions in consumed energy
and waste. The natural correlation for this objective is a
concerted effort to introduce smaller and slimmer packs
and, of course, to drive down the associated environmental
and cost impact of shipping.
In light of these trends in drug development, global reach
and in operational and sustainability strategies, high moisture
barrier technologies such as Aclar® UltRx 6000 are increasingly critical to success. Not only do they offer significantly
higher moisture protection compared to other transparent
films, they also enable up to 55% pack size reduction over
cold-formed foils, contributing to shelf-space maximization at
wholesalers and pharmacies, meeting the needs of extended
supply chains and enhancing pack portability for patients.
THE PATIENT ADVANTAGE
The relationship developed with patients remains key in
achieving successful health outcomes. Here too packaging can
provide a strong differentiator, with design flexibility supporting the overriding aim of ensuring that the products reach the
right patient at the right time in optimum condition.
As a result, many oral solid brands are offered in more than
one tablet or capsule strength – packaging plays a vital role
not just in ensuring the efficacy of the drug but in encouraging
adherence to patient therapy. Certainly, proper colour coding
of the outer carton and /or potential colour differences in the
dosage itself combined with clear blister packaging films can
be helpful in the drive to prevent medication errors.
What’s also true is that without effective moisture barrier
protection, formulation components such as hydrophilic
polymers may absorb water during storage and become prematurely plasticized. This affects the physical stability and
- in turn - the performance of the entire formulation.
For patients, drug integrity is becoming even more critical
as a result of the move towards reducing the frequency of
drug administration with an anticipated gain in patient com-
pliance and improved treatment outcomes.
Consequently, tailoring the drug release profile often re-
sults in bigger dosage sizes due to the elevated amounts of
high performance excipients and API required for a viable
formulation. The same holds true for any efforts to enhance
drug dissolution rate by creating sub-micron drug particles,
as this involves a greater increase in the overall drug sur-
face requiring higher amounts of excipients to be matched.
Similar arguments apply for FDCs and low potency APIs.
While dosages are getting bigger, it is also well known that
most people with a chronic condition prefer small packs as
they enable discretion, portability and convenience. Indeed,
research indicates that packs that are too bulky may even
compromise patient compliance efforts in drug delivery.
So blister packaging has certainly become a key industry
driver. High performance thermoforming films are increas-
ingly enablers for holistic pack design that help companies
operate more efficiently and improve patient outcomes.
What is also clear is that the contribution of innovative
polymer-based films for blister packaging will grow in importance as pharmaceutical industry looks for global, scalable solutions that bring the benefits of new generation drug
therapies to populations around the world…irrespective of
location or climate. ■