Healthcare packaging: Innovating for a patient-centric market

Healthcare packaging: Innovating for a patient-centric market

10 Sep 2018 --- Due to a changing pharmaceutical model and pending US legislation requiring drug manufacturers to package opioids using child-resistant/senior-friendly (CR/SF) blister packaging, adherence packaging in the healthcare industry is more important now than ever, according to Dave Dwyer, Vice President of Global Strategic Marketing at WestRock Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS).

Dwyer explains to PackagingInsights how the provider-driven healthcare marketplace is being transformed into a patient-centric health ecosystem. In response, he says, many pharmaceutical companies are taking steps to do more for patients than deliver safe and effective drugs. They are beginning to utilize advances in digital technology to engage with patients to become more patient-centric, resulting in technology-driven, personalized patient experiences.

WestRock has responded to these healthcare industry challenges with packaging solutions that address critical patient-centric issues, including features such as calendars, billboard space with large, fold-out panel printed instructions, digital monitoring and educational inserts that help patients track their medication regimen and more.

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Westrock's Electronic Dosepak

More than securing medicine
“As a specialized pharmaceutical packaging provider with a global manufacturing presence, WestRock offers an extensive line of high-quality solutions that do more than simply secure medicine,” says Dwyer.

Dosepak, an award-winning adherence package, consists of a heat-sealed inner card containing tablets inserted into an outer sleeve. The design functionality that aids Dosepak products’ success includes:

  • Dosing calendars, printed instructions and educational inserts that help patients track their medication regimen, so they don’t miss a dose or double up by mistake.
  • Optimum delivery packaging option when complicated regimens are required (e.g., titrations).
  • Billboard space with the large, fold-out panel guarantees that information and dosing instructions stay with the inner card for the life of the therapy and may be utilized to link through barcoding to support resources.

Dwyer also moved to highlight WestRock’s Electronic Dosepak. “It monitors and tracks the open/close function of the inner card fold over panel while recording blister open/close with an electronic reed switch and a moving magnet.” The solution uses reusable electronics and it is a fast and low-cost way of electronically enabling blister cards for clinical trials.

Another recent patient-centric solution from Westrock is the Cerepak. As Dwyer describes, “it automatically records how patients respond to complex dosing regimens.” It is specifically designed for clinical trials. Benefits include:

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Westrock's Cerepak
  • Portable, disposable and available in multiple sizes.
  • Custom-made electron traces placed behind blister to measure pill cavity expression.
  • Revised program designed to lower costs, increase time to market and improve customer assembly logistics.

“At WestRock, we work to provide our customers with innovative solutions to fulfill their sustainability strategies and objectives, while reducing the environmental footprint of our solutions through continuous improvement initiatives,” Dwyer tells PackagingInsights.

WestRock offers a wide range of adherence packaging solutions that are paperboard-based and fully recyclable at a time when sustainability is a key driver in NPD. The supplier also offers more than 50 commercialized F=1 packages which are easy to use and senior-friendly.

“In addition to our expertise in medication adherence solutions, we combine high-impact graphics with innovative carton features to differentiate our customers’ pharmaceutical and nutraceutical brands on the shelf and in the home,” says Dwyer.

The focus for Westrock’s healthcare solutions, beyond sustainability, include inventory controls, adherence to stringent quality assurance standards, enhanced security and anti-counterfeiting features, value-added packaging and graphic enhancements, tamper-resistant packaging and seals and specialized authentication techniques.

Sealed Air healthcare solutions
Another pharmaceutical specialist putting sustainability at the center of its NPD is Sealed Air. Julianna Jacobson, Director Global Public Affairs at Sealed Air refers to the supplier as “a knowledge-based company focused on packaging solutions that help customers achieve sustainability goals in the face of today’s biggest social and environmental challenges.”

Sealed Air has recently launched the latest addition to its frangible seal family with M332. This film is specifically designed to create multi-chamber bags like those used in total parenteral nutrition.

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Sealed Air M332

“Here, the various drug components can only be mixed together just before being administered to the patient via an IV line,” says Jacobson. “The frangible seal between the chambers allows for accurate premixes to be safely produced and delivered to the point of use, ensuring patient safety.”

“One problem with some multi-chamber films is their tendency for these internal seals to permanently bond during bag making and filling, rendering the finished TPN bag unusable. As with all Sealed Air films for IV, the wide sealing window of 65oC compares very favorably to that of these other film structures, which typically only operate inside a 15oC window. It prevents the weld issue from happening while giving a reliable and consistent burst strength to the frangible seals.”

Cold chain packaging
Sealed Air ensures the safe and secure distribution of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, foods, chemicals, and perishables with protective solutions that insulate against temperature changes, control vibration, optimize cube, reduce void fill and minimize freight costs. Sealed Air currently offers multiple temperature assurance solutions for pharmaceuticals including Kevothermal vacuum insulated panels and TempGuard insulated carton liners.

“Kevothermal insulation vacuum panels use patented technology to achieve previously unattained levels of commercial thermal insulation,” says Jacobson. “Kevothermal insulation begins as a nanoporous powder which is pressed into a board of the desired thickness. These are cut to size, encapsulated in a protective barrier film and vacuum sealed, creating a vacuum insulation panel.”

“Thinner wall construction allows for smaller cube size and reduced weight resulting in lower freight costs without compromising performance. The panel sizes are custom manufactured to suit specific customer requirements. A silver or white outer plastic film covers the panels providing a water and oxygen barrier which is resistant to handling and abrasion and is easy to clean. Standard boxes can be supplied fully assembled with an inner and outer carton, or provided flat for customer assembly,” she adds.

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Sealed Air Kevothermal 6

TempGuard is an insulated, curbside recyclable insulative material developed for shipping temperature-sensitive goods. It fits securely inside corrugated boxes and other containers, offering product protection during transit. The product’s thermal insulation is constructed from heavy-duty kraft paper containing a uniform inner padding.

“The solution is highly customizable and can be optimized through thermal modeling to meet the needs of one- and two-day shipping. It has been tested to meet International Safe Transit Association 7E certification standards to ensure contents maintain proper temperatures. It works with refrigerants ranging from gel packs to phase change materials,” Jacobson tells PackagingInsights.

“The inner padding of TempGuard consists of fibrous material. Tiny pores between cellulose fibers are too small to support heat convection so the overall heat transfer rate is reduced significantly, which makes the material a good insulator. TempGuard has an R-value of 3.7 per inch, which is at parity to EPS. In addition to its insulative properties, the solution’s padding cushions items and minimizes damage during handling and transit. Because its 100 percent curbside recyclable, TempGuard is a good choice for last-mile shipments,” she explains.

In other recent news, designer and cGMP manufacturer of paperboard packaging solutions Keystone Folding has introduced a customizable Ecoslide-RX packaging design which is seen as a tool to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in the US. This updated Ecoslide-RX package is designed to limit dosages in an effort to curb overdoses while providing added benefits for safe dispensing.

By Joshua Poole

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