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Drug developers are interested in innovative polymers and multilayer technology to help meet packaging requirements

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Rajarshi Datta, Country Head & General Manager – South Asia, Honeywell Advanced Materials informs there is a growing need for new packaging technologies that allow the pharma industry to launch drugs to market faster while reducing operational costs and shares details about Honeywell’s pharma packaging product offerings, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

Tell us about the emerging technologies in materials science for pharma. What will be their drivers? 

With the continued growth of the pharma packaging market and the advent of COVID-19, there is a growing need for new packaging technologies that allow the industry to launch drugs to market faster while reducing operational costs. This has become a huge challenge and opportunity for technology players in the sector. Pharma companies are leveraging advanced technologies and automation to address challenges such as sample backfilling and overfilling, detecting metal contaminants and other dense foreign bodies in the production line. With the support of technologically advanced and innovative partners, the pharma industry can shift down a gear and increase its efficiency and productivity throughout the product life cycle.

How is the pandemic likely to advance innovation in this sphere? What are the learnings from this pandemic that can be used to serve heretofore unmet needs? 

The shutdown caused by COVID-19 has caused disruption in all sectors. While a vaccine is the desired ultimate solution, companies need new packaging technologies that allow them to launch drugs to market faster, while lowering operating costs. It is critical for the pharma industry to ensure a sufficient supply of high-quality glass packaging products for pharma manufacturers around the world. Pharma companies have expressed several concerns about a possible shortage of vials that will lead to a serious bottleneck in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed. This has proved to be a major challenge and opportunity, not only for vaccine manufacturers but also for their partners. For example, the glass used to make vials for vaccines and other medicines is scarce. Given the emerging need to store and distribute COVID-19 vaccines on a large scale, we need to be prepared with plastic alternatives to store vaccines in the future.

Which are the new materials which are finding increasing utilisation in pharma and life sciences? Why? 

Within the life science and pharma industries, there is increasing formulation complexity and unique distribution requirements such as a cold chain. Drug developers are more interested in innovative polymers and multilayer technology to help meet packaging requirements. Aclar Edge bottles and vials provide moisture barrier performance that is comparable with glass and enhanced oxygen barrier compared to other polymer materials. Also, the packaging does not contain any additives, thus reducing the risk of leachables from the container closure system. Aclar Edge offers operational advantages as well by eliminating glass breakage and particulates while reducing transportation costs with up to 75 per cent weight reduction versus glass.

Many are warning about a shortage of glass vials to bottle COVID-19 vaccine. How can advancements in material science help mitigate this challenge? 

Glass bottles present many challenges to the pharma industry, as they are prone to cracking and breakage, inorganic leachables and glass particulates. Honeywell’s Aclar Edge is a novel technology that overcomes these problems and can improve the stability, purity and ultimately patient safety of the drug. Aclar Edge bottles and vials are engineered with Honeywell’s novel and proprietary multi-layer blow molding technology, preserving durability and efficacy for a variety of demanding liquid dosage forms while greatly improving user safety in handling and administration. These bottles and vials provide a moisture barrier comparable to glass and an improved oxygen barrier compared to other polymer containers. It offers significant operational benefits by eliminating glass breakage, minimising drug particulate contamination, and lowering transportation costs. Furthermore, unlike most plastic bottles used for liquids, Aclar Edge significantly reduces the risk of leachables from container closure systems.

How is Honeywell contributing to the progress in this sphere? How will it serve India Pharma Inc? 

Honeywell provides a range of services throughout the pharma value chain, starting with an initial evaluation, packaging design, stability, scaling and launch, completing life cycle management to support packaging throughout the drug development process.

Honeywell’s healthcare packaging business includes Aclar’s flagship pharma packaging product line. Honeywell and the Aclar portfolio were the trusted choice for pharma packaging. In line with the government’s Make in India commitment, we also announced the establishment of a new state-of-the-art global packaging development centre at the Honeywell India Technology Center (HITC) in Gurgaon, Haryana.

Aclar Accel: We have expanded our portfolio and introduced a new line of fluoropolymer films called Aclar Accel. This new part of the Aclar family of moisture barrier films meets the market demand for different price options combined with faster delivery times. The Aclar Accel product family includes both Aclar Accel 1700 (1.7 mil/43 mic) and Aclar Accel 5400 (5.4 mil/137 mic). Aclar Accel 1700(1.7 mil/43 mic) offers a response to cost-effective transparent films in the area of high moisture barriers and is an attractive alternative to High Barrier HB PVdC. Designed for opaque laminates, Aclar Accel 5400 (5.4 mil/137 mic) offers improved overall cost efficiency compared to Cold Form Foil CFF.

Aclar Edge: Honeywell also recently announced Aclar Edge, an innovative pharmaceutical packaging solution for human mouth fluids and sterile injectors for animal health applications. Aclar Edge bottles and vials will be available in sizes from 100ml to 500ml and can be configured with threads or crimped.

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