Bob Weaver, president of HunterLab
What is the biggest industry challenge you're now facing?
The US Pharmacopeia and the European Pharmacopoeia color standards are commonly used for color specification, but they only cover a small range of the color gamut as seen by the human eye. True, it is easier to add a visual test than to add an analytical-instrument step in the development and production process. However, visual indexing and validation have limitations and are by nature subjective methodology.
Product color and appearance are increasingly important, but the pharmaceutical industry is still at an entry level in its integration of color-control instrumentation. Ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) spectrophotometers are common in most companies. While they technically measure the same spectral range as the human eye, UV-vis spectrophotometers do not correlate with the way it sees color. Application-specific color spectrophotometers are routinely used by the chemical industry for production quality control of fine and specialty chemicals. However, in many pharmaceutical companies, an application-knowledge gap still exists regarding the science of color and appearance. Color-technology awareness and applied solution engineering continue to be at the forefront of our industry focus.
Do you see a new industry trend emerging?
Today, consumers equate product quality to an expected appearance. The first things humans notice are a product's size, color, and shape. Color is an important component of branding and recognition. Increasingly, manufacturers are implementing instrumentation to ensure product color quality in many ways. Examples include measuring a lack of color in a liquid or the degree of whiteness of a compound, which correlates to purity or a lack of product degradation. Applications and technology development continue and are extending implementation to the production line.