Blister packaging plays dual role as protector and barrier
Protection starts on the outside
Blister packs are used for sealing products like tablets, capsules, drugs, vials, ampoules, syringes and liquid products. Child-resistant, tamper evident, senior-friendly and anti-counterfeit packaging are in high demand worldwide – therefore, pharmaceutical packaging as a whole is changing with demand.
Unit doses are becoming more widely used, and a viable option to amber vials, as blister packaging does a super job protecting the product. Brands are opting for blisters because of added features such as temperature-control, light-resistant, moisture- and oxygen-resistant, as well as simply tamper-resistant. Consumer needs, like senior-friendly and child-resistant packaging, are also top of mind.
A fall 2016 report by Research and Markets (researchandmarkets.com) states the cold form blister packaging market should hit U.S. $8.63 billion by 2024. Growing demand from the pharmaceutical industry and a high requirement of cold forming packs due to favorable product features are driving the growth. The healthcare segment accounted for 48.30% of the market volume in 2015.
One of the newest cold form packs on the market is FormFoil™ Lite, a greener, more cost-effective version of standard cold form foils. Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. (rollprint.com) uses a proprietary manufacturing process that permits the use of 1 mil aluminum foil in place of the 2 mil foil used in conventional applications for its new foil. Coupled with Allegro®B peelable sealant, the end result is a material that maintains robust formability, reduces consumption of natural resources, provides significant reduction in costs, and enhances the user experience.
The foil is designed to help organizations meet their cost reduction and environmental impact goals in a variety of applications such as sutures, diagnostics devices and surgical tools. Benefits of FormFoil Lite include downgauging the foil layer, using less energy and material in production, decreasing the environmental/carbon footprint required and use of machinability and formability with less material.
LiquiGuard™ by Klöckner Pentaplast (kpfilms.com) is part of the Pentapharm® line of pharmaceutical blister films. LiquiGuard films can be used for applications such as chewables, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, formulations sensitive to flavor or odor loss, and unit dose liquids. The film is autoclavable for sterile applications, such as chewables, nutraceuticals and unit dose liquids, and delivers customizable high-moisture barrier (prevents moisture loss as well as gain), excellent deep-draw properties for complex blister geometries, and high-slip for quick release and increased productivity. LiquiGuard films are said to provide high heat stability, low leachability and extractability with odor and flavor retention, one-stage forming and packaging of hot-fill products, and visual clarity for enhanced shelf appeal.
“Pentapharm LiquiGuard provides an advanced option for unit dose packaging of liquid or semi-solid medications that require resistance to extreme temperatures from hot (120˚C filling) to cold (-183˚C and lyophilized) during processing, while offering all the benefits of a clear, thermoformable blister film with a customizable moisture barrier,” explains Frank Oliveri, director of global marketing, pharmaceutical packaging.
It may not be new to the market, but Amcor’s (amcor.com) multi-award winning Dessiflex Blister System is still an industry favorite. The cold form blister pack includes a desiccant solution in the sealing layer. It offers protection against moisture from cross-diffusion through the lid seal, avoiding the need for desiccant sachets or wads in the package, and increases patient safety by eliminating the risk of desiccant consumption. It is also impermeable to light, oxygen and other gases.
The Dessiflex system’s desiccant particles are integrated into the sealing layer using a solventless coextrusion coating process. Added to its ability to keep tablets and capsules dry over an extended period, Dessiflex Blister System offers energy efficiency due to its improved sealing temperatures, higher yield and lower manufacturing costs – the tablet drying process can be completed within the blister, during storage. The product in the blister cavity is easier to detect due to the blue desiccant color.
A blister card wouldn’t be a card without the backing. Overnight Labels Inc. (overnightlabels.com) has come up with a new blister card backing, addressing its customers’ greater packaging needs. The blister backing comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, which is meant to stand out on shelves and give the product a high-gloss presentation. The company can print up to seven colors on the backing and up to 12 pt. board on foil or paper materials.
The blister card backing is ideal for vitamin supplement stand-alone cards in stores and can be used for other items packaged with PVC and used in a hanging display by adding a die-cut hang hole into the top of each card. Hanging the card would grant a larger space for graphics and instructions on the front and back of the card.
Ecoslide-RX 2.0 from Keystone Folding Box Company (keyboxco.com) presents upgraded features from the original Ecoslide that enhance user-friendliness, including a redesigned lock/unlock functionality and enhanced graphics providing more dynamic user instructions. The compliance package passed Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) protocol testing for child resistance and received F=1 rating. Ecoslide touts senior friendliness and is made from 100% recyclable material, and requires a minimal amount of film and foil. Ecoslide-RX is more environmentally sustainable than competing packages, hence its “Eco” moniker.
Launching soon, Ecoslide-OTC (over the counter) is made entirely of paperboard. This solution features an innovative push-
button locking mechanism that, in eliminating the need for CR blister foil laminates, amounts to one of the few major innovations in child-resistant OTC packaging in decades.
With unit dose packaging becoming more prevalent due to its many benefits – including ease of use, senior-friendly and child-resistant, and barrier-protection features, as well as elimination of pharmacy-introduced counterfeiting – it is no wonder we are seeing more launches than ever of blister packaging. Add to that, serialized unit dose blisters, and the pharmaceutical industry will soon kick counterfeiters to the proverbial curb.
Blister machine introduced in the United States
A blister machine from Japan’s Maruho Hatsujyo Kogyo (“MHK”), Japan’s second largest pharmaceutical packaging machinery manufacturer, has made it to the U.S. Maruho Hatsujyo Innovations (mhi-innovations.com), the U.S. subsidiary of MHK, introduces the Eagle. It is an Americanized version of MHK’s successful PF-D1S, is a compact, servo-driven, high performance machine – the first in North America.
MHK says it’s capable of handling commonly used forming and lidding materials, is competitively priced and can produce up to 100 blisters per minute at a maximum index length of 90mm and maximum index width of 130mm. The Eagle features fast, tool-free changeover in less than 10 minutes, offers multi-zone pre-heating, recipe-driven format change and is compatible with third-party feeders.
The Eagle features both platen forming and rotary sealing and MHK says it expects to stand up well in the U.S. market. Other attributes include ease of operation, user-friendly HMI and easy expansion of feeder area. MHI is committed to product support, providing U.S.-based installation, maintenance, spare parts and 24/7 technical support.
The company has nearly 400 blister machines installed, spanning several leading pharmaceutical companies in the Japan marketplace.