Five minutes with Joe Luke, VP Sales & Marketing, Reed-Lane – DCAT Week ‘18
PH: Reed-Lane is a supplier of contract packaging services to the pharma industry. How is the market at the moment?
Luke: It’s OK – steady. We go as our customers go and I like to say that our biggest competitor is our customers, because they may take their packaging needs back in-house and it is always changing. They get into these modes where they are downsizing but want to protect their work, so they don’t outsource at that point. It’s kind of hard to compete with your customers. We serve both the RX and the OTC sides of the market and on both sides, but particularly RX, customers are facing price erosion and some are looking at spinning off products or whole divisions . As they hurt, we hurt. It can be an opportunity for us when they rationalise, but it can take a few years to benefit us. Actually, we are picking up some business now from a large pharma company that is closing a plant right now, so they have to find a home for some of their products.
PH: Are the services the two sides of the industry seek from you different?
Luke: For the most part it’s the same – in terms of SOPs and quality level, we perform to the same standards. We are agnostic as to whether a product is RX or OTC. We are FDA-audited and DEA -licensed. The only difference is that on the prescription drugs that now you have serialisation, where as for OTCs you don’t.
PH: You invested in a dedicated serialisation suite a couple of years ago…
Luke: Correct – that was our first investment in serialisation. It is a secondary serialisation room where we could basically serialise anything going into a folding carton, be it a blister pack, a bottle, a diagnostic kit or a vial. We are now fully integrated on that and have just started serialising in-line on two of our bottled lines, with full aggregation just in the past month. We are probably ahead of some of our customers. We could have been serialising on bottles two or three months ago, but some of our customers were just not ready from the IT side. That’s where the real challenge is here: the IT connection between the supplier and the customer, linking that all together and transferring the numbers in the right manner. Putting serial numbers on a bottle is not difficult, but I think the industry didn’t realise how time-consuming the data and IT side was going to be.
PH: Has serialisation been an opportunity or a challenge?
Luke: Both. Initially, as ever when you start up with a new customer or application, it was a challenge but in the long run it will present opportunities. We would not have been considered for some of the work we are doing now if we had not been serialised.
PH: Are you a regular at DCAT Week?
Luke: I’m familiar with it but this is our first year in a meeting room. We are a local company, based in Wayne, New Jersey, and some of our customers were asking if we were going to be here, so we thought it was worth it. Both today and tomorrow are pretty full, so I think it could be good. It’s better than the traditional packaging shows we used to do; they are more equipment shows now and companies like us get lost there.