Is the pharmaceutical industry getting the service it deserves? Mary Murphy discusses the issues with M.Y. Healthcare, sponsors of the Pharma Centre of Excellence at Total Processing & Packaging 2004

An innovative market deserves innovative packaging products and nowhere is this truer than in the pharmaceutical sector.

“There is something unique about being a supplier to the pharmaceutical industry,” explains Malcolm Ward, managing director, M.Y. Healthcare.”The pharmaceutical sector exists purely by producing innovative new products yet the packaging that goes into it has been the most recalcitrant in the world!”

But times they are a changing. At M.Y. the onus is placed on working with customers to provide product and process improvements through what director and general manager Graham Clark describes as its ‘Hot Head’ development team, which both benchmark and test changes in packaging design and specification.

Among the leading pharmaceutical packaging suppliers in Europe, M.Y. Healthcare counts all the leading pharmaceutical blue chips among its 450 customers.

The group provides a wide variety of folding cartons including the Dividella multiform fluted trays packaging system and patented Tops cartons; self-adhesive labels, Patient Information Leaflets and booklets, on-roll, flat and folded information leaflets, and sachet leaflets; printed foils, blister lidding, and a wide range of laminated foils including printed aluminium and PVC.

The company has invested heavily across all its operations and spends about 10% of turnover on innovation, with a minimum of £5M spent on packaging developments alone during 2002-2003. However, the innovation process can be complex as each customer has a different strategy and so much of the R+D work is conducted on an individual basis. Instrumental in providing this type of service is a dedicated contract packing facility where anything that can be done in a customer’s factory can be reproduced where necessary in clean room conditions.

  “It gives us an extra dimension and allows us to explore packaging ideas in a production environment. This ‘Hot Head’ facility is particularly important to customers as it means their own production facilities do not have to be disrupted,” explains Ward.

Outsourcing within the pharmaceutical sector is growing at a rapid pace and this is being mirrored by investment programmes that will double the size of M.Y.’s pharmaceutical contract packing facility in Bedford. Reasons for the trend to outsourcing are manifold, but Ward believes the increasingly competitive nature of the pharma sector and the myriad of legislative factors and other protocols the industry must abide by will ensure it is the packagers that innovate who will prosper.

“The future will demand a high level of innovation in all areas. Statistics suggest that the European pharmaceutical market will show next to no growth in line items, but it will grow in terms of the ways in which drugs are delivered, leading to innovation and a marvellous opportunity for packaging”.

The company’s design centre in Leeds works with customers to develop new products. Typically, design solutions are worked on with customers either to a brief provided by the customer or through ideas developed within the centre that address particular customer needs.

One example of this is the label leaflet, LabelXtra, launched this autumn, which has been introduced to meet the ever increasing demand for on-pack patient information.

Another string to its bow is the PharmaPact alliance which is collectively the largest pharmaceutical carton producer in Europe. Made up of M.Y. (UK, Italy and Ireland), Carl Edelmann (Germany) and L.G.R Emballages (France), it has more than 20 production sites across Europe.

Once again innovation, technology and customer service are the mainstays of the business philosophy. For example, there is a constant exchange of product development information, process systems and benchmarking, while a team of specialists within the alliance evaluates and maximises the extensive range of equipment within PharmaPact control.

M.Y. Healthcare sponsors pharmaceutical excellence

M.Y. Healthcare is sponsoring the Total Pharma Centre of Excellence at Total Processing & Packaging 2004.

“Innovation is the means by which we differentiate ourselves and by sponsoring the Total Pharma Centre of Excellence we will be creating value added opportunities for both current and future customers,” explained Malcolm Ward, managing director.

Joining fellow sponsors, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), the PPMA’s PharmaChem group and the industry journal, Manufacturing Chemist, M.Y. will add an extra dimension to the Centre of Excellence which has been designed to promote value to the pharmaceutical industry by offering visitors and exhibitors the opportunity to discuss and view visual representations of all the major issues affecting the pharmaceutical packaging and processing industry.

An international seminar programme is also planned that will explore the cross-fertilisation of technologies between different market sectors and issues within the pharmaceutical supply chain.