“The future is not what it used to be”. An expression that is as topical as ever, for all industrial sectors, but which finds its full place in the pharmaceutical world. The future that was imagined and, indeed, planned at the end of the last century has in many respects been turned upside down. And that is without taking into account the events of recent years, which have been decisively crucial for the sector. A scenario that has also directly involved pharmaceutical packaging, in particular primary packaging, i.e. that which remains in direct contact with the product and makes it, consequently, suitable for distribution and use (as in the case of aluminium tubes for ointments and salves).
In 2021, PwC published a study called ‘Future of Health’ in which it addresses various aspects that denote important changes taking place and highlight the most important trends for the years to come. The study involved more than 150 executives from the most important companies in the pharmaceutical sector and the opinions shared paint a portrait of a world that is rapidly evolving to get as close as possible to the patient, as well as to the doctor and pharmacist, by listening to their needs at 360 degrees.
In particular, a number of points emerge that BioPharma companies will necessarily have to address:
- Digitalization of systems and processes;
- Big Data analysis, in particular to obtain data useful for precision (or personalized) medicine;
- Transforming the value chain accordingly, in particular R&D and business operations;
- Reinventing business models to maintain sustainability also in LIFEcare systems.
PwC focuses on the structural aspects of the pharmaceutical chain, but under the technical aspect the situation is very similar: Mckinsey&Co has shared some important thoughts on the CMC (chemistry, manufacturing, and controls) front, a crucial area for development; here, according to the authors, are the 4 pillars that will have to guide Pharma for the coming years:
- Making technical development more patient-centred;
- Adopt a data-driven view of technical development;
- Unleashing the full scientific potential of CMC, including through advanced data analysis and the use of mathematical models to streamline processes;
- Promoting closer collaboration between the various members of the drug chain (including institutions as active participants).
Pharmaceutical packaging can play a key role in this process, particularly with regard to points 1 and 4: primary packaging is the main element in determining the usability of a drug, including by persons with different types of disabilities. In addition, the term “usability” is also wise to include the ability to protect the medicine from external agents and contaminating factors, while maintaining its reliability for the indicated duration, without this entailing excessive effort in its storage at home. These are all aspects that aluminium tubes for drugs have fulfilled very well for more than seventy years.
The fourth point is particularly crucial: at present, there is already a necessary harmonisation between all players in the pharmaceutical supply chain, but it is fundamentally based on compliance with regulations. In other words, it revolves around an institutional hinge, which is certainly a safeguard for everyone, starting with the end consumer, but which does not always allow the sector to fully express its potential in terms of efficiency and innovation. In other words: it is necessary for the various Pharma sectors, from research laboratories to distributors, to talk to each other more, sharing values, methods and expertise, and not just to be sure of fulfilling compliance criteria given from above. Tubettificio Favia, which has been a partner of international pharmaceutical companies for over 80 years, was one of the first to realize the need to address its role as a strategic partner and not just as a supplier, not limiting itself to offering aluminium tubes but offering its expertise in the complex regulatory requirements that govern the sector. Today, thanks to Perfektüp, Tubettificio Favia’s expertise in the pharmaceutical sector can count on a solid and innovative structure, capable of effectively managing the industrial process and guaranteeing customers compliance in all production steps.
To these four pillars we could add one that is becoming increasingly important: Sustainability. Drug manufacturers have increasingly put their ecological footprint under scrutiny, especially with regards to energy consumption. But a company’s own emissions are only the tip of the iceberg. Involving suppliers, distributors and all other actors in the supply chain is essential for real change. GSK has taken this issue very seriously and at the recent Climate Week in New York announced that from 2023 it will require suppliers to improve their impact on the environment with concrete actions to reduce emissions, energy consumption, heat loss; other elements of attention will be the transport used in logistics, waste produced, water consumption and respect for biodiversity. The message is clear: those who want to work with GSK must demonstrate that they fully share these values, not just in words but in deeds. GSK has estimated that 40% of the pharmaceutical company’s carbon footprint is linked to the supply chain and that suppliers make up a ‘substantial part’ of GSK’s overall effect on water, waste, and biodiversity.
Tubettificio Favia espoused this line already in “unsuspected” times, choosing to focus solely on a completely recyclable material such as aluminium and entirely covering the roof of the production facilities with solar panels. A choice of energy sustainability that will soon be replicated in all Perfektüp factories. In fact, the company has ambitious goals in terms of sustainability: the first, with a 2025 horizon, envisages achieving zero impact in terms of production, i.e. recycling a quantity of aluminium equivalent to that processed; the second, with a 2030 horizon, envisages reducing the ecological impact in terms of emissions by 50%.
The next edition of CphI, Pharma’s most important trade fair, will provide an opportunity to explore many of these topics. We would be pleased if you would like to do this with us: we look forward to seeing you at the Favia-Perfektüp stand 30G73. To book an appointment, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you!