Innovations for 2012 - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Innovations for 2012
Packaging innovations boost productivity, meet regulatory requirements, and protect products.


Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 1, pp. 38-41

Anticounterfeiting measures


We’ll be seeing more ...
Although the pharmaceutical industry has had some success in countering counterfeiters with multilevel overt and covert security features, fake or diverted products continue to endanger consumers worldwide. Because counterfeiters can't duplicate what they can't see or readily detect, covert features, such as tiny taggants, rank as an essential anticounterfeiting tool.

One taggant-based technology enables smooth adoption by blending the taggants in ink, varnish, thermal-transfer ribbon, resin, or film. In its latest iteration, taggants are combined with inkjet ink that's invisible under visible or ultraviolet light. Detection of the alphanumeric characters or barcode printed with the taggant-equipped ink is only possible with a programmable handheld reader, which provides authentication in seconds. Tight oversight of the supply chain ensures secure handling of taggant carrier materials (Traceless AD inkjet ink and reader, Eastman Kodak).

Blister innovations


Foil-free Alu-Look blister films run on standard thermoforming equipment.
A thick polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) film provides ultrahigh barrier properties for blister packaging and runs on existing thermoforming equipment with only minor adjustments. At 152.4 µm, the film measures 50% thicker and improves water-vapor-transmission barrier properties 50% compared with previous offerings. The enhanced barrier properties allow moisture-sensitive medicines to withstand the hottest and most humid environments, including Climatic Zones IVA and IVB as defined by the World Health Organization. With this material, pharmaceutical companies can standardize packaging worldwide. The clear film provides product visibility and reduces package size as much as 55% versus cold-formed foil, the traditional barrier material for ultrasensitive products (Aclar UltRx 6000 film, Honeywell Specialty Materials).


The Pentapharm Aclar PA600/02 barrier lamination seals to any vinyl-compatible lidstock.
At least two blister-material converters produce laminations with one layer of the ultrahigh-barrier PCTFE. One is a two-layer PCTFE–polyvinyl chloride (PVC) lamination (Pentapharm Aclar PA600/02 barrier film, Klöckner Pentaplast Group).


Meda uses Sleever International’s braille labels for its Betadine disinfectant sold in Italy.
For a stronger moisture barrier, the PCTFE can be laminated to polypropylene, cyclic olefin copolymer (COC), polyethylene terephthalate glycol, polyethylene, or ethylene vinyl alcohol. In fact, one structure, consisting of PCTFE laminated to a ply of coextruded COC is claimed to boost barrier properties as much as 80% compared with current high-barrier PCTFE–PVC laminations (Aclar UltRx 6000 laminations, Tekni-Plex). A foil-free PVC with barrier properties and a foil-like, light-blocking appearance is another alternative to cold-formed foil and aluminum strip packaging (Alu-Look blister films, Tekni-Plex).

Braille on labels

When European 2004/27/CE directive took effect on Jan. 1, 2006, it made braille labeling mandatory on all new pharmaceutical packaging. Since then, a growing number of options have been introduced to help pharmaceutical packagers comply.

To overcome a lack of harmonization in the configuration of braille messages, one producer of shrink-sleeve labels has standardized character string alignment on the left and reading from left to right. It also specified the distance between dots, their width, their height, the distance between each group of six dots (which corresponds to a letter) and interlines. A proprietary marking method and morphing tool ensure characters are formed in compliance with parameters and do not become distorted during the heat-shrinking process (Sleever Braille, Sleever International).


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