by Hallie Forcinio – Packaging Forum Editor of Pharmaceutical Technology magazine
Packaging technology at the INTERPHEX show, being held May 1-3, 2012, at the Javits Center in New York, focuses on traceability, product protection, quality control, new machines, line integration, and blister packaging. Below are a few anticipated highlights.
Traceability and anticounterfeiting
A distributed software and hardware solution for serialization is already in use for shipments of vials, bottles, or cartons to India, China, the United States, and Turkey. Capable of running as a full-featured, stand-alone serialization solution or for integrating directly into common enterprise resource planning systems and associated data repositories, the hardware and software has a small technology footprint in the user’s data center and is flexible enough to integrate to other systems. The software can be deployed securely in the cloud and works across multiple geographic zones (Optel Vision TrackSafe, Optel Vision).
An advanced, two-dimensional barcode helps prevent counterfeiting and stores up to 703k of data, which is dramatically more than the typical 4k barcode. As a result, it is possible to encrypt information from a 2 x 2 in. color photograph. The photo also can be overprinted on the code for secondary verification. Read-only apps for Android and iPhone smartphones do not require Internet lookup or database storage. Without an Internet-accessible database, the code is virtually impossible to reverse engineer. To further discourage copying, the code print generator and reader are provided separately (HD Barcode, Complete Inspection Systems).
A film/foam label identifies product while protecting vials during processing, transit, and storage. Preventing breakage not only reduces waste and associated expenses, but also prevents the release of toxic substances and injury to transportation, warehouse, and healthcare personnel. The label also enhances container/closure integrity, thereby preventing product contamination. A thin, flexible structure ensures easy application. Labels can be handled on existing equipment and eliminate the need for complex secondary packaging (Pharma-Cushion label, Schreiner MediPharm).
A two-ply, opaque, polyethylene terephthalate (PET)/foil laminate lidding offers three levels of child-resistant (CR) protection. The hardest-to-access design achieves the highest rating (i.e., F=1) and is designed to be opened with a tool such as scissors (Lock-tight lidding, Winpak). Another version features a peelable opening for fragile pharmaceuticals or unique drug delivery medication systems (Safety-Pak Plus PL lidding, Winpak). The third option relies on traditional peel-push CR opening but provides a full-panel peel (Safety-Pak Plus PP lidding, Winpak).
A customized cutout in induction-sealed foil lidstock controls dispensing of tablets, capsules, or liquids from plastic bottles. The lidstock reduces the chance of product contamination during dispensing and serves as an anticounterfeiting tool because the dispensing design is difficult to copy. As it makes its North American debut, it seeks its first user (Dispense Lid, Constantia Flexibles, formerly Constantia Hueck Foils).
A group of companies has joined forces to offer pharmaceutical packagers one-stop shopping for new packaging lines. The collaboration was officially launched in May 2011 at Interpack in Dusseldorf, Germany. The group anticipates collaborative projects will account for about one-fourth of its members’ business. In preparation, it has established joint project teams and a unified service network with 600 employees worldwide. Packagers benefit from improved interface management, comprehensive documentation, and on-site support (Excellence United consists of Bausch-Ströbel, Fette Compacting, Glatt, Harro Höfliger, Uhlmann, and Visiotec).
One partner plans the North American unveiling of its latest tablet press. Already in use in Europe and India, its design simplifies three primary tablet press functions: changeover, operation, and maintenance. The design has an optional and user-configurable third set of compression stations that allow it to quickly convert to double-layer use. The unit easily handles difficult products requiring extended dwell time. Features include a new filling cone, completely redesigned compression stations, an optimized first-layer sampling function, and a through-the-column, all-in-one, corner discharge assembly (FE55 Tablet Press with Tri.Easy design, Fette Co. America).
Hallie covers quality control in packaging as well as new machines being launched at INTERPHEX 2012 in the April issue of Pharmaceutical Technology.