Klockner Pentaplast, a leading manufacturer of plastic blister packs for medications, announced Tuesday that it’s opening a high-tech facility in the University of Virginia Research Park for drug makers and packaging engineers to work on proper packaging while medications are being readied for the marketplace.
The company’s i.center will allow manufacturers and company engineers to design, develop and test packaging to protect the stability and security of medications.
The idea is to foster collaboration at the site, which has spaces for customer offices, tooling for making prototypes and market development expertise.
“The idea is to basically help the company that has the idea of a new drug to go through the process of determining the correct type of packaging and labeling and to help them all the way through the manufacturing,” said Gordon von Bretten, senior vice president of Klockner’s pharmaceutical films division. “It’s really to help the customer all the way through the supply line and to get the medication to patients.”
The i.center will be the first of six planned around the world by the international company, headquartered in Germany.
In 1979 the company built its first U.S. manufacturing and research facility in Louisa County, near Gordonsville, where it continues to employ about 650 people.
The i.center facility, in the research park off U.S. 29 in northern Albemarle County, includes equipment that can design blister packs, create prototypes and test how the prototypes will work in production.
Although it may not make the blister packs easier to open, the facility will allow designers to engineer a container that can properly protect medications from the environment and keep them stable during shipping and shelf-sitting.
“Many pharmaceuticals are manufactured in different countries around the world, and there are five different environmental areas in the world. Because different medications are affected differently by weather and humidity, we need to design the packaging accordingly to make sure that it remains stable and effective,” said Daniel Stagnaro, director of Klockner’s global market development.
“Some manufacturers want one type of package for medication sold in North America and Canada and another for sale in more humid areas like Singapore or the Amazon,” Stagnaro said. “Others may want only one package for use in all five zones.”
“With this kind of packaging, it’s not one-size-fits-all,” said Marc Setzen, Klockner’s chief technology officer. “When one size fits everything, it really doesn’t fit anything well.”
In 2005, the company created its BlisterPro XCEL system to provide consulting services to its customers. The system will be combined with software from FreeThink Technology at the research center site to test packaging prototypes with medications in different simulated environments to evaluate efficacy, officials said.
“We see our customers’ competitive landscape changing. Speed-to-market, product safety and cost control are essential factors in them growing profitably around the globe,” von Bretten said. “This helps change [Klockner Pentaplast] from a traditional material supplier to a provider of solutions. We can now truly make a difference in our customers’ total cost position and help them bring better products to market faster.”
Klockner Pentaplast Group serves pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and food and beverage makers.
Founded in 1965, the company operates in 12 countries with 18 production sites and employs more than 3,200 people worldwide.