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Did You Know: Pharmaceutical Packaging

What logistical challenges arise concerning the supply chain management for different packaging materials?
Regarding supply chain and Lead times on a lot of these components so glass is manufactured by just a few companies throughout the world and there are currently many, many months out sometimes more than a year. An unacceptable level I would say for most Pharma operations because obviously you want to keep inventories low, and you want just on time arrival of components for your production. Any material you can get on regular supply that you don’t have to keep a large inventory on is certainly a benefit cost-wise and space-wise for a pharma application. So in the case of BFS you buy resin and train cars, truck loads, or boxes. It’s a pretty efficient way to transport and to use. It’s all about how much space something takes up and how fast you can get it when you’re low on inventory. It’s a big driver to pharma and how you can operate efficiently.

What are the road tests that a glass or plastic vial must pass for pharmaceutical use?
Glass, of course, has inherent problems with chipping, cracking, breaking, and that’s something that has been experienced throughout the entire use of it. The other packaging involved, so for example, like a glass bottle, most likely would go into a paper carton. That carton is essentially the protection for the glass. The reason for advancing in the plastics industry is, of course, like your ketchup bottle. You know you can drop your ketchup bottle on the floor and usually it doesn’t break, but your glass one would. So, it’s the same idea behind that plastics I think are essentially the future of packaging because they are so advanced now they provide those barrier properties at are close to the glass. You need materials that are tough enough for shipping overseas via air freight over the ground. The plastics do that. The glasses do that as well but, of course, the plastics are going to be tougher. You’ll have enough protection with various layers.

So, one of the things that’s been done over time is you essentially have primary a secondary and sometimes a tertiary package where you put your container in something like a box or a pouch or a sachet or something like that. Then you put that in a carton, then you put that in a case and, even furthermore, you put it on a pallet. We have these standardized palettes that are shipped all throughout the world and it’s those levels of packaging that have improved damage and issues.

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