In early 2015, CellOxess LLC launched Fertilix®, a unique blend of natural vitamins and minerals that act as hydrophilic (water-soluble) or lipophilic (fat-soluble) antioxidant. These vitamins and minerals support sperm health at the molecular level, protecting DNA and other cellular components from free radical damage and other physiological and environmental stressors.
“The products themselves consist of tablets and softgels, arranged separately on the same blister cards under nitrogen,” notes Todd West, Director of Business Development for Princeton, NJ-based CellOxess, a biotech firm dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic cell oxidative stress, or a state of “predisease.”
Fertilix supplements require packaging to deliver several attributes, including barrier properties and marketing punch. Says West of Fertilix packaging, “The blister cards are protected from humidity and changing atmospheric conditions in a sealed foil pouch. The foil pouch is then placed in a folding carton that is UV-coated to maintain color integrity. With this packaging, Fertilix can be stored under a variety of storage conditions without compromising long-term product safety or integrity.”
As an emerging company, CellOxess required a packaging partner with the expertise to function not just as a supplier, but as a partner—one that could assist in devising a complete system for the moisture-sensitive product with an atypical set of barrier protection requirements. In other words, the packaging system needed to be almost as meticulously designed as the product itself.
CellOxess also required cost-competitive packaging that did not sacrifice high quality. Expediency was another important factor, as the product would be launched in the Middle East as well as Western markets. CellOxess was eager to commercialize Fertilix after a lengthy development phase.
The company also required packaging graphics and design to be eye-catching, yet fully compliant with pharmaceutical regulations in widespread global markets. With these criteria in mind, CellOxess began a systematic packaging supplier selection process.
Picking a packaging partner
West explains how CellOxess found its key packaging supplier/partner, Rondo-Pak.
“We first became aware of Rondo-Pak and their capabilities because the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturers such as GSK, Amgen, and Genentech are their customers. It wasn’t until we approached them to work with us did we realize how valuable a partner they were. After visiting the Rondo-Pak facility, we quickly realized their state-of-the-art capabilities, attention to detail and quality were exactly what we were looking for in a partner.”
West credits Rondo-Pak for being “instrumental in the design and development from the inception, producing top-of-the-line cartons expediently, and at a competitive cost. Everyone at Rondo-Pak had input to ensure a quality carton. From Technical Services, Ed Bani recommended UV coating for a glossy look and suggested an embossed logo, saying, ‘That will make it pop.’ Kevin Brahl, Prepress Manager, guided us every step of the way through a six-color job, with the sixth color being the ‘flavor’ color.”
CellOxess selected a Reverse Tuck End-style carton with 18-pt SBS boardstock, with a thumbhole cutout for easy customer access. Three carton sizes are used for the three product versions: Fertilix Max: 3.75 x 2.82 x 5.76 in.; Fertilix Low-Dose: 3.55 x 2.31 x 4.69 in.; and Fertilix Preconceptual: 2.96 x 2.31 x 4.06 in. The formulation costs are as follows: Fertilix—Preconceptual: $54.95; Fertilix—Low Dose: $97.50; and Fertilix—Max: $142.50.
West explains that Fertilix products require “a unique manufacturing protocol to ensure end users receive the highest possible quality products.” The supplements themselves are formulated by CellOxess and manufactured at Best Formulations, a contract manufacturer and private labeler of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
Tablets and softgels are then packaged and arranged separately into custom-designed blister packs under nitrogen. Because the product is so sensitive to moisture, its solid-dose pills must be packaged rapidly into finished blister packs to ensure full shelf life.
Says West, “This is critical in maintaining product integrity and long shelf life. The blister cards are then packaged into foil pouches and sealed, again to limit long-term exposure to humidity or oxygen, which could impact product integrity.” Fertilix is subsequently packed into secondary cartons that need to be fairly large and stable, yet easily accessible to consumers.
All product packaging is done by custom printing and contract packaging firm EW Packaging. That includes the cartons from Rondo-Pak, which creates the finished product. Products are shipped to distributors in boxes of 25 cartons via pallet load. Boxes are shipped to consumers upon ordering, carefully packed with padding to protect the cartons.
Positive partnership results
Rondo-Pak, part of Medipak Systems, the pharmaceutical systems area of Körber Group, closely collaborated with CellOxess in designing all of its boxes, blister packs, and tablets. Text, graphics, and box sizes were modified several times to accommodate regulatory and practical issues.
Rondo-Pak also helped CellOxess develop and source the package inserts for the product. It also provided prototype samples for the company to approve before committing to the full production run. When complete, the packaging portfolio was manufactured and delivered on schedule.
Another benefit of the packaging, West notes, is that “it makes it difficult for other companies or counterfeiters to copy with carton decoration, easy-open top, embossing, and UV coating. In addition, the blister packaging and foil pouches are difficult to replicate in other facilities. As with any brand, counterfeiting is a concern, but we have taken many steps to mitigate those risks, including advertising around the packaging so customers know what to look for to make sure they are getting the real deal.
“The sleek design and attention to detail in our packaging has been met with high praise,” West continues. “Consumers and distributors alike note the aesthetics of the cartons and the intricacy of the packaging as a major selling point for Fertilix products.”
“Rondo-Pak helped us to launch Fertilix as a scientific antidote to the incidence of declining male fertility and establish our reputation as a producer of carefully designed, high-quality products,”says Parviz Gharagozloo, President of CellOxess. “They met all of our needs.