Top right: Desiccant packets on a continuous
strip can be automatically cut and dropped
during the packaging process.
Right: Integrating desiccants and barriers
into plastic containers is a viable alternative. Protecting the efficacy of pharmaceutical products through packaging solutions typically requires a combination of active agents and passive bar- riers. Packaging experts have turned to various
types of protective packaging to safeguard drug products
against degradation, which can lead to loss of stability,
shortened shelf life or an ineffective drug delivery. These
agents, primarily moisture, oxygen and odor adsorbents,
complement and enhance passive barriers.
Although sorbents are essential to the quality, stability and
appearance of packaged pharmaceuticals, such products can
increase the complexity of the manufacturing process. The
added steps can slow cycle times and provide opportunities
for errors and rejects. They also involve multiple materials and
components that must be sourced and managed, impacting the
supply chain. Some technologies may even require proprietary
equipment that ties the manufacturer to a single provider.
Thus, it is key that pharmaceutical packagers utilize active
packaging solutions that minimize complexity and enhance
efficiency, and pharmaceutical packaging innovators such as
Clariant have developed technologies to do just that.
UNIVERSALIZED PLATFORMS OFFER FLEXIBILITY
In all types of containers, desiccants play an active role in
controlling the impact of humidity on drugs, which can af-
fect degradation, dissolution or the therapeutic properties of
APIs. Because the plastic containers used for most drug prod-
ucts are semi-permeable, they allow some moisture to enter
through the container walls.
Placing “drop-in” style desiccant
packets and canisters in plastic containers is an affordable and effective way
to take advantage of plastic’s cost advantages
and resilience, while maintaining the necessary conditions inside the product package.
To accelerate the speed and improve the efficiency of adding
drop-in desiccants, high-speed insertion technology, such as
desiccant packets on a continuous strip, have been developed.
These packets are automatically cut and dropped during the
packaging process. As a further enhancement to reliability and
efficiency, strip packets with holes in each seal facilitate optical
detection of the cut point. Clariant’s Continu-Strip® Hole Punch
packets feature a hole in between every seal to avoid mis-cuts
during automatic insertion.
The pharmaceutical industry’s demand for even faster insertion is driving increased use of desiccant canisters, which offer
a rigid, uniform shape to enable high-speed processing. Because
canisters are already separate parts, they allow the use of a
fast, efficient hopper system for continuous, seamless insertion,
and eliminate the step of cutting desiccants from a reel.
Because of process optimization advantages - potentially
doubling insertion speeds compared to packets - desiccant
canisters have become the gold standard for protection.
Further, the industry has developed canister-style oxygen
scavengers, such as PharmaKeep® humidity-neutral oxygen
scavengers, to provide active absorption of oxygen within
the drug package. Like desiccants, these canisters can be
inserted using high-speed equipment.
Care should be taken with manufacturers who have taken a
proprietary approach to their canister/equipment solutions, requiring packagers to use only their desiccants on their specific
insertion machinery. A more prudent strategy is to choose a
universalized platform combining standard equipment and desiccants that can be used on any insertion machine.
INTEGRATING PROTECTION INTO THE POLYMER
Another strategy for process optimization is integrating pro-
■ By Mark Florez, Marketing & Communications Manager, Clariant Healthcare Packaging
Active and protective solutions help ensure product efficacy