The use of screw caps to seal bottles for consumer use vary greatly from region to region. However, in North America, as in Europe, many medicines are sold in containers with screw caps. An important component and part of the packaging of many dosage forms, screw caps are employed to securely close containers holding powders, pastes, liquids, and other products. The tightness they offer, i.e. the low permeability of gases, vapours and aromas, which is guaranteed even after re-closing, is unrivalled, compliance with regulatory requirements and functional reliability aside. Innovative manufacturers of medicinal products are increasingly using screw caps as an additional feature to offer added value to customers, patients, or pharmaceutical filler. This article by Clemens Boerner at Kisico presents various possibilities of product protection with the help of innovative screw caps.
‘Product Protection via Primary Packaging – Screwcaps to The Rescue‘
In the production of screw caps, plastic injection moulding is favoured for the freedom of design offered. After a one-time investment in an injection mould, the manufacturer is very flexible when it comes to the choice of plastics and colours. Identical articles in several colours can be produced from one mould without much effort. The plastics can also be varied with each run, an important consideration for differing regulatory requirements. A batch can be made from a particularly temperature-resistant plastic, for example, or additives that optimise features such as opacity, UV-resistance or barrier properties added.
Recently, innovative brand owners have been focusing on enhancing primary packaging with additional benefits for consumers, patients, and bottlers, such as more information on the bottle. Brand owners can benefit from the generation of data for marketing. Beyond protecting the product from leakage and spoilage, the screw cap as primary packaging material can serve to prevent tampering and counterfeiting of the contents. The WHO assumes that 1 in 10 medical products or medicines in low- and middle-income countries are falsified or substandard. Steadily growing online trade ensures the global spread of such counterfeits.
Counterfeiting and manipulation take different forms. Unlike lifestyle items such as sunglasses, the packaging of the medicinal product is the most important clue to its authenticity. The packaging is often the only thing that laypeople, i.e. users and patients, can check for authenticity. With few possibilities to attach anti-counterfeiting protection directly to the product, its primary packaging must take over this enormously important task. There are documented cases where the original packaging of cancer drugs was refilled with an ineffective substance and reintroduced to the market through criminal channels. Unfortunately, undamaged original packaging makes it possible to repackage expired drugs or to circulate drugs that were originally intended for a different target market.
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