Five minutes with Mark Florez, Product Manager, Clariant Healthcare Packaging – DCAT Week ‘18
PH: Everyone knows Clariant, but what is your unit?
Florez: Clariant Healthcare Packaging is a business line of the Plastics & Coatings business area and there are a lot of synergies with it, as we use a lot of their materials. We service about 85% of large pharmaceutical companies worldwide, branded and generic. We have five plants in the US, France, India and China. We opened the newest at Cuddalore, India, at the start of the year; we built it from scratch to our own design, within an existing Clariant site and it now ISO 15378 GMP-certified, like the rest of the network.
PH: Are they regionally dedicated or is this a global network for global customers?
Florez: It’s a global network. Of course, each plant primarily supplies their own region and not every product line is produced at every plant, but we are shipping material from every region to every other and we have deliberately implemented a certain amount of redundancy. Many critical products are made at least at two sites, so we can ensure business continuity planning by being our own second source for the customer.
PH: What do you mean by the term ‘active healthcare packaging’?
Florez: It means that a specific active agent, like a desiccant or an oxygen scavenger, is integrated into the package to modify the atmosphere inside it, in order to extend the product shelf life and ensure it does not degrade due to moisture and/or oxygen. We can supply an appropriate packaging material or use a customer’s existing configuration. We look at the usage conditions, taking all necessary parameters into account, and help the customer design the proper protection. Often customers come to us with their choice of package, so then we must at the very minimum understand the specific moisture conditions the drugs will be subjected to. What is its moisture vapour transmission rate of the packaging? This is the moisture making ingress all the time into packages other than metal and glass during shelf life and it is the most important dynamic, though not the only one. How much desiccant is needed to sustain the product throughout its shelf life? One of the variables is climate: the ICH has defined the climactic zones that go into the equation – and they have recently added Zone 4b, referring to extremely humid zones.
PH: You project 7-9%/year growth for this market in the coming years. What’s driving that growth?
Florez: Partly it’s organic growth from the megatrends like growing population. We also see the drugs becoming more sensitive, mainly because they are being engineered to add value to the drug product with new delivery systems, such as timed release or different dissolution rates. That requires chemistry and formulation that can also make the drug more sensitive.
PH: What materials do you use?
Florez: There are a number: silica gels, molecular sieves, activated carbon, mixtures of desiccant and carbon when you need to address both odour and moisture, and more. EQius is a new conditioned silica gel material and the brand name is now being used across our portfolio of products and technologies related to equilibrium relative humidity stabilisation. We launched the brand because the portfolio started to grow more as we got into this particular application. We originally had an EQ-Pak packet, then an EQ-Can and an EQ-Stopper, an EQ-Bag … it got challenging to manage them all from a brand perspective, so we created an umbrella brand. We are showing it at the US for the first time here. We also work with various specialty plastics: ADP is our own advanced desiccant polymer, which can be moulded into any part of the packaging or drug dispensing device; EVOH is used as a standard barrier to oxygen within our Oxy-Guard 6-layer EBM bottles. We also use non-woven materials like Tyvek. Tri-Sorb is our molecular sieve range and we have recently expanded that line to include desiccant tablets used for USP <671> permeation testing of blister packaging.