Interphex Showcases Packaging Innovations - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Interphex Showcases Packaging Innovations
Exhibitors' products prevent counterfeiting, provide child resistance, protect product quality, and improve packaging-line efficiency.


Pharmaceutical Technology


Cyclo olefin polymer (COP), a relative of COC, is moving from high-precision optics to injection-molded pharmaceutical bottles, vials, and prefilled syringes. Flexible packaging such as IV bags is also a possibility. The material offers a good moisture barrier, extremely low residual-metals content, glass-like transparency, and compatibility with ethylene oxide and gamma sterilization ("Zeonex COP," Zeon Chemicals LP, Louisville, KY).

For sensitive dry powders and solid-dosage forms, desiccant material can be compressed and shaped to fit or drop into inhalers or containers. The compressed format absorbs twice the moisture and is cost-competitive with pouch-packed desiccants ("Coated Solid Form" sorbents, Multisorb Technologies, Buffalo, NY).

Another way to incorporate desiccants into pharmaceutical packaging is to mix the absorber with the resin used to injection-mold a component such as a dispensing device that's designed to release one tablet or capsule at a time. The dispensing control minimizes the exposure of the remaining contents to microbes, pathogens, and other contaminants and can eliminate the need for cotton fill ("Flow-Limiter" equipped with "Advanced Desiccant Polymer," Süd-Chemie Performance Packaging, Belen, NM).

Determining how much moisture- or oxygen-absorbing capacity is needed generally depends on stability testing, a time-consuming, expensive process. Simulation software calculates the water vapor and oxygen transmission rate of any package, predicts the relative humidity of the package's headspace and product hydration level over time, and calculates sorbent requirements. The mathematical model is accurate enough that simulation results reduce the need for physical stability tests. Varying the model according to various barrier structures also helps optimize the packaging ("SimulSorb" service, Multisorb Technologies).

Cold-form foil provides maximum barrier to moisture, gases, and light. A new nylon–foil–PVC lamination can be reverse-printed in as many as eight colors for improved graphics and brand merchandising. Its three-layer structure permits a 15% deeper draw than competing materials, resists delamination, and runs at the highest machine speeds ("Cold Form 3000" laminate, Alcoa Packaging).

Quality control

X-ray technology can provide 100% inspection of blister packages without any effect on the product. X-ray inspectors can detect problems such as metal contamination, broken or missing tablets, and packaging voids. The units are compatible with foil packaging and can confirm leaflet presence and fill levels. They also can control product–package mass and fat analysis. One family of low-energy X-ray inspection systems relies on linear-array technology to perform multiple checks at line speeds as high as 400 ft/min ("E-Z Tec" X-ray inspection systems, Eriez, Erie, PA).

A checkweigher–laser coder combination relies on magnetic force restoration instead of strain-gage technology to weigh product and code acceptable packages. A magnetic-force restoration system accommodates products spaced closely together moving at speeds as high as 300 units/min ("HC-TQCC Total Quality Check and Coding Centre," OCS Checkweighers, Inc., Snellville, GA).

Line efficiency

Packaging execution-system software improves efficiency at the machine, line, and plant levels by communicating in two directions with programmable logic controllers on equipment and with manufacturing-execution systems and enterprise resource-planning systems. Thus, it can deliver information in real time so problems can be pinpointed and corrected ("TIPS Advisor," SYSTECH International, Cranbury, NJ). An overall equipment-efficiency tool added in 2006 pulls data from each machine in a facility and measures its availability, performance, and quality ("TIPS Advisor OEE," SYSTECH International). The software also manages the serialization of RFID tags or bar codes. In addition, a new optical character-verification tool checks rotating text, streamlines font training, and processes data to check more than 5000 characters/s ("Optical Character Verifier 2," SYSTECH International).


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