Are any of those packaging functions trade-offs, or are they all complimentary?
The number one item for the product’s packaging is the protection, so I don’t think you’d be able to trade off anywhere there otherwise you’d have breakage of your product that’s sort of the number one thing. If you do the container itself, you aim to make it as small as possible. A trade-off can be you do have a required amount of text or information you have to supply so sometimes you can shrink the container so small that you can’t put enough of your information around a bottle or on a sheet of paper also in manufacturing it may be possible to make a smaller container or package but it might not be efficient on the equipment. For example, a pouch or a sachet has a minimum size that can be processed where it may look like space is wasted or material is wasted but just the nature of the manufacturing equipment at the scale you wish to produce it may not be possible to make a package so small. Another thing I have seen is formats are a big thing that you have to deal with in Pharma. You’re often inclined to put a smaller volume in the same bottle you already use. If you have a 3ml bottle you already have the bottle around and then if you want a 2ml product it can be a lot more efficient cost-wise to put a smaller volume in a bigger container of There’s a limit to that because the customers would start to wonder why their bottle is not completely full. So you do have to scale down the size of your packaging for the product but there are some efficiencies gained by reusing components of a certain size.
Have there been major advances in packaging in the last, say ten years?
I think there have been a lot of advances, especially in the polymers that I mentioned and they’ve replaced glass. So there’s certainly a shift to materials that are a little bit easier to produce and also ones that are able to be run at bigger scales faster in equipment. Some of the plastic items can be sealed very quickly and they can create a hermetic airtight seal with relative ease on the right equipment. One of the things that are coming about is things like bioplastics or degradable type plastics that would not only provide the same benefits in terms of toughness and the ability to package easily, but they would be biodegradable. Of course, those are so new right now that they’re very expensive and not available in super high volumes. Over the next couple of decades, I imagine that bioplastics or some of the more environmentally friendly packaging materials will come up. Of course Pharma companies are resistant to that change while the price is still high and some of the properties chemically are not fully understood. The Pharma industry is fairly slow to change because there’s a lot of work involved. For example, changing a container that your drug product goes into.