Achieving Drug Compliance through Packaging

Honeywell's magnificent corporate campus in Morristown, NJ, was the venue for the Showcase 2002 conference, “Delivering Innovation through Packaging” (Sept, 17-18, 2002). Attended by more than 200 packaging pros representing virtually the entire pharmaceutical supply chain—from plant design to drug delivery — the event was hosted by Honeywell as well as five trade organizations/periodicals. With pharma compliance a major factor influencing packaging growth, many speakers plugged the benefits of drug compliance.

The keynote address, following a dinner sponsored by Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging News, was delivered by Irwin Lerner, retired CEO of Hoffman LaRoche. He touched on the costs involved in pharma development and losses incurred by the noncompliance of a prescribed drug regimen. Mentioning the “statins,” which, once started, are normally used on a lifetime basis, he noted, “the average statin [should be] used for six months and not for one's entire life.” This noncompliance costs both the drug and packaging industry millions of dollars, but even more importantly, plays a vital factor in the patient's overall health.

The main seminar was divided into four tracks covering everything from blister barrier to drug delivery systems. Michael Pereira, PA Consulting, spoke about using advances in food packaging as precursors to pharma packaging. In one interesting example, developed by PA consulting in the U.K., a dessicant was added to a polymer film to boost the moisture barrier of a package containing a nasal inhaler. While he called it an example of “enhanced packaging,” I (and probably others) would dub it a superb example of “active packaging” in the pharma industry.

Several talks focused on innovations using cold-formed foil as a pharma blister material. There are three main competitors on the international market: The newest entry is “OptiForm New Generation,” and its niche is to achieve blister size reduction; Alcan's “Formpack” is a relatively widely used material for very sensitive new products and fast-dissolving tablets; Constantia Teich's “see Alur-Blister” is an entirely aluminum structure (no PVC) and may serve a niche in a rapid production line.

One of the most dramatic introductions has been the recent entry of an alternate PCTFE in the high-barrier race. Aclar, Honeywell's well-established high-barrier PCTFE film, now has a challenger in the marketplace. Why there was no talk at Showcase 2002 on this exciting new development was rather self-evident considering the venue!

As reported in Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging News (September 2002): “While Honeywell's efforts have helped position PCTFE for lower-priced uses, Tekni-Films' Vaposhield is expected to do more of the same once it catches on. Thomas Hauser, sales manager for Pharma Flexibles, Alcan Packaging (Kreuzlingen, Switzerland), and a former Tekni-Plex employee, says Vaposhield ‘differs chemically not at all’ from Aclar. Both are 100% PCTFE mass film.”

The introduction of Vaposhield PCTFE was driven largely by the need of global pharmaceutical clients for a second source of an important primary film,” says Michael Franklin, VP of Tekni-Films. “Disruption in availability of or long lead time for single-source primary packaging can have negative effects on the supply chain.” Vaposhield is a direct equivalent of Aclar. It has been approved by FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and it is fully interchangeable on an annual reportable basis.

Much more was covered at Showcase 2002. Dr. Ganapati Mauze, Aredigm Corp., spoke about the packaging required for pulmonary drug systems. Because of “needle dislike,” pharmaceuticals such as insulin are coming onstream slated for delivery via the patient's pulmonary system. Mauze touched on issues involved in this system and its overall efficiency.

For a CD of the papers presented at Showcase 2002, contact Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council; Peter Mayberry, executive director; 252 N. Washington St., Ste. A; Falls Church, VA 22046; 703-538-4030; unitdose.org.


Stanley Sacharow has been in the flexible packaging industry for more than 35 years. His company, The Packaging Group, is an organizer of targeted conferences and a consultant to the international packaging/converting industry. Contact him at 732/636-0885; univpac@aol.com

Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter