6th Annual InnoPack Pharma Confex kicks off

6th Annual InnoPack Pharma Confex kicks off

The 6th Annual InnoPack Pharma Confex kicked off on 1 June 2017 at the Sahara Star in Mumbai. The first day of the conference attracted a packed house of professionals reflecting the variey and complexity of the pharma packaging industry. Several interesting and timely topics were discussed during the day, which began with a lamp lighting ceremony by the chief guest Rita Teaotia, secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In her address, Teaotia spoke of the government’s attempts in further improving the ease of doing business and said that in the current environment of slow global economic growth, India needs to further integrate with the global market. She described the Indian pharma industry as an export champions.

NC Saha, director of the Indian Institute of Packaging speaking as the guest of honor, described some of the Indian packaging trends as well as the trends in pharma packaging globally. He said that the Indian packaging industry is growing at the rate of 13% a year and is expected to reach US$32 billion by 2020. Talking about pharma packaging, Saha said that while the earlier aim of packaging was to just preserve the quality of enclosed medications, now the aim is also to prevent tampering and counterfeiting while at the same time facilitating dispensing accuracy. He noted that sustainability, cost effectiveness, robotics in primary packaging, radio frequency identification (RFID), unit dosage packaging, child-resistant packaging and senior citizen or accessible packaging are some of the growing trends in the pharma packaging space.

Sealing and closures
In the first conference session, Datwyler Sealing Solutions spoke of its Satara plant for manufacturing pharmaceutical closures and informed that a second plant could be in the offing in 2018. Its most advanced manufacturing solutions facility―FirstLine―is expected to start mid-2018.

Dessicants
In the session after lunch, Sakamoto’s manager of international sales Roger Lan spoke about his company’s innovative desiccant for pharmaceutical packaging. He explained, “Sakamoto Lime is a product which is highly suited as a replacement to silica being used as desiccant in pharma packaging. The major difference between silica and our product (Sakamoto Lime) is that our product is much cheaper than silica. Further, as we are all aware of the phenomenon known as container rain, which can lead to disastrous consequences of spoiling consignments loaded in containers for shipping, the use of lime (CaO) as a desiccant is also not advised as water contact with lime can create heat to rise up to 250 degree C.” Lan showed comparative results of Sakamoto’s Lime and how it fairs in comparison with other desiccants.

Blister-making
Shehul Seth, director, Accupack, explained the company’s three solutions―Victory & Galaxy, Plexus and Blister Draw. Designed in Europe, Victory & Galaxy are the two machines which can be combined for better results. The machine combination is called Harmony by Accupack. The company also offers an operational intelligence tool named Plexus, which can be helpful for connecting and managing plant operations while simultaneously tracking all activities and generating reports. The MIS-type of tool helps in optimizing utilization of manpower, machinery and other resources.

Seth then spoke of a third innovation―Blister Draw, a blister making software tool. By entering detailed blister requirements, 3D and 2D models are generated and displayed by the software.

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Hygienic vacuum tech for pharma
Ajit Singh, managing director of Busch Vacuum India, spoke about vacuum technologies in pharmaceutical packaging applications. He spoke about the company’s vacuum pumps that are widely used for pharmaceutical applications like blisters.

Benzophenone
Gautam Kedia, regional manager for Western India of ITC’s Paperboards & Speciality Papers Division, briefed the audience on regulatory issues related to paper and board used for pharmaceutical packaging all over globe. He mentioned that Benzophenone formation caused by the usage of varnishes and UV inks is now regarded as a crucial hazard, adding that the pharma industry has started asking for certifications that the papers, plastics and inks and coatings used in packaging are Benzophenone free. Benzophenone, amongst its other uses, is a photo-initiator in curing UV inks and is also used as a UV blocker on plastics used in packaging. Thus, Benzophenone-free papers, plastics and other inputs are increasingly specified, sought after, used and better rewarded.

Best practices and safety issues in packaging development
Santosh Das, leader for commercial development at Becton Dickinson, India addressed, “Best practices and pitfalls of developing combination products―a system integration approach.” Prabir K Das, head of packaging technical services at the OSD division of Mylan Laboratories, spoke on the topic ‘Shelf life enhancement through improved packaging’ wherein he highlighted that the safety of drugs within the packaging can be ensured through tests at the packaging development stage taking into consideration various foreseeable environmental, logistical and market parameters such as temperature, humidity, shelf life and others. Kaustubh Dubale, global market development manager for pharma packaging from Solvay Speciality Polymers, suggested blister packaging solutions for temperatures and conditions that precipitate the formation of water vapor, and the need for a barrier for safety of drugs. As an illustration, Dubale spoke about his company’s DIOFAN SuperB product.

Lastly, the first day of the InnoPack Pharma Confex 2017 concluded with an address by Gregory Silveria, plant manager of Huhtamaki PPL’s Webtech division. Silveria spoke about the Benzophenone and migration concerns in pharma packaging while focussing on the difficulties in manufacturing printed labels and solutions while avoiding migration and contamination by Benzophenone. 'Pack in a box' was an exclusive session undertaken by West Pharma to interact with the attendees.

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The Congress is humbling for technology companies that are generally committed to more, faster and automated production compelled to talk on this platform about simpler and more appropriate technologies for emerging economies to prevent food losses on the farming, harvesting, sorting, processing and logistics side. Nevertheless, it is a sobering thought that already more people in the world die of obesity related deaths than to those related to malnutrition. In the European Union, 88 millions tons of food worth about EUR 143 billion is wasted annually.

The German government has established a division to tackle food waste with a “too good for the bin” awareness program. Its spokesman outlined the government’s 3-step strategy, including targeting its communication at the 800,000 young people who come of age each year in the country; investment in science research to prevent food waste to match or compete with research and development for the increase of food production; and to attract and enable startup companies to find solutions that are both creative and have their own business velocity. A view that can be said to be shared by several speakers is that, “While the private sector holds the key to addressing the issues of preventing food losses and food waste, the public sector is an enabler through policy, frameworks, economic initiatives and research.”

India invites investment in food processing and packaging
A featured speaker at the Save Food Congress was Gargi Kaul, joint secretary and financial advisor to the Ministry of Food Processing in the Government of India. Kaul said that the Indian government is committed to reducing food losses currently estimated to be of the order of US$ 138 billion, by 10% annually. She openly invited foreign direct investment in food processing and packaging pointing to the 42 mega food industrial parts that the government has approved and of which 8 are already operational—together with the government’s recognition of better storage and cold chain logistics facilities. “We require food processing and packaging technology,” she said. “In addition, there is an opportunity in the food retail sector of US$ 33 billion in the next ten years.”

Kaul invited interested stakeholders to the Food India 2017 conference being organized by the Indian government from 3 to 5 November 2017 in New Delhi. Subsequent to Kaul’s forthright and well-received presentation, the FAO presented its case study research of food losses in Andhra Pradesh.

Azuri Health of Kenya presents a solution
Tei Mukunya, the managing director of Azuri Health, a small and medium enterprise in Kenya, presented her company’s success in preventing losses of the mango crop in her region by building a small mango processing and packaging company that delivers sliced and dried mango slices as attractive shelf-ready packages for domestic consumption and exports.

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Mukunya described the achievement of a hygienic and sustainable business as well as the challenges of scaling it up with increased mechanization and technology along with the use of new materials. Azuri Health has received immense help from consulting firm Africons as well as technology suppliers such as Bosch and Multivac. Mukunya herself is an accomplished and articulate agriculture and food industry consultant who has taken on an entrepreneurial role.

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