New Tool: ProSource
Check out our packaging and processing solutions finder, ProSource.

Views of a contract drug packager

Andrew Billington, operations manager at Brecon Pharmaceuticals in Wales, addresses recent trends in packaging.

Pw 7879 Andrew Billington 3

PW: What are you looking for in new packaging machinery?

Billington: Quicker changeover and anything that facilitates GMPs [Good Manufacturing Practices] are at the top of the list. Both are especially important for a contract packager because our runs can be quite short. Added changeover pressure can also come from the multiple languages we deal with here in Europe. That’s something our counterparts in the United States do not have to face.

PW: Do you have any particular strategy for coping with the need for such versatility?

Billington: We work very hard at what we call late-stage customization. Essentially it boils down to a fairly generic blister pack that you customize for specific language requirements only at the end. The carton and the leaflet insert, and perhaps the labeling on the carton, are the components that get customized the most.

PW: What has changed in pharmaceutical packaging in the past few years?

Billington: We’re seeing greater reliance on electronic systems to identify product quality and to verify product ID. There used to be considerably less of this outside of the sterile side of pharmaceutical packaging, where it’s been ongoing for some time. But now we’re seeing it more on the relatively straightforward blister-pack business, too.

PW: What about counterfeiting?

Billington: As contract packagers, it’s a bit less of an issue for us since we don’t own the product or brand. We use the packaging designed by our customers. But we are beginning to see holograms, microprinting, and other such technologies with greater frequency.

PW: Any changes in materials worth noting?

Billington: We are definitely seeing a movement toward more sophisticated laminations aimed at lengthening shelf life. Also, a third of the work we do is cold-form foil as opposed to thermoformed materials. Five years back, it would only have been about five to ten percent cold-formed foil. Fortunately, we’ve come up with some proprietary developments in cold-forming tools to keep their cost down.

—Pat Reynolds

How Can You Honor a Leader?
Induction into the Packaging & Processing Hall of Fame is the highest honor in our industry. Submit your leader to be considered for the Class of 2024 now through June 10th. New members will be inducted at PACK EXPO International in Chicago
Read More
How Can You Honor a Leader?
How AI is reshaping CPG manufacturing operations
Today’s CPG companies are faced with mounting challenges in their manufacturing operations. You have the data that could help you, but can you turn that data into knowledge? See how artificial intelligence can help. Learn what’s working for Pfizer, Post, and Smithfield.
Read More
How AI is reshaping CPG manufacturing operations