Cost Efficiency, Package Safety Win Respect



Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (India) uses a tamper-evident carton for its cytotoxic drug.

Waste reduction and cost savings mark the two winning healthcare product packages in this year’s Ameristar awards. The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) has recognized the SterileVent package by Cardinal Health in the Medical Device Packaging category and the Cyto-Safety package for Mitotax-300 Injection by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (India) in the Pharmaceutical Packaging category. The two winning packages, both redesigns, significantly increase product cost efficiency, promote safe and easy product use, and raise the state of the art in their respective markets. IoPP presented the awards during Pack Expo Las Vegas on September 27. All winners were on display during the show.

Cardinal Health had been using preformed bags to package its surgical drapes and gowns. Interested in reducing the material waste that occurred when sealing the bags, David Rudd, senior engineering specialist for Cardinal Health, developed a more efficient package. “During the process, approximately 30 square inches of film were trimmed and discarded for every unit packaged,” he explains. “Additionally, packages required circular pieces of Tyvek, leaving 21–30% of the original material unused. This was an unacceptable amount of waste that led to significant material and disposal costs.”

Cardinal Health sought machinery assistance from Multivac (Kansas City, MO). The machinery manufacturer developed a thermoform-fill-seal (TFFS) machine to create customized trays out of polyolefin film. The TFFS machine die-cuts a vent hole into the top film web and positions a rectangular strip of Tyvek on the end of the package. This strip is used instead of the circular Tyvek vent in the center of premade bags. The new package saves Cardinal Health in material costs and speeds up the package line by almost 50%.

According to Rudd, the rectangular Tyvek strip provides better venting. Such venting and a linear-tear seal allow Cardinal Health to use a faster, more-aggressive EtO sterilization cycle, sending the package into Cardinal Health’s distribution system sooner. Cardinal Health is also saving on labeling expenses. It had used paper inserts for product identification on the previous package. In-line form-fill-seal operations allowed Cardinal Health to add in-line printing. A flexographic printer from Bell-Mark (Pine Brook, NJ) print Cardinal Health label copy onto the package’s top web, while an ink-jet printer from Videojet (Wood Dale, IL) produces variable codes.

The package is also easier for healthcare practitioners to use. The linear-tear opening feature is easy to use with a turn of the wrist, says Rudd. In addition, the new polyolefin material doesn’t require the slip agent the previous package needed to ease filling, so the new packages can be stacked and stored easily.

For Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., P. Durga Prasad, deputy manager for packaging development, and T.S.R. Gautama Buddha, senior director for packaging development, sought to reduce product waste and make product use safer for healthcare workers. The two implemented a carton pack from Ecobliss B.V. (The Netherlands) with shock protection, tamper evidence, and anticounterfeiting features. The product, Mitotax-300 Injection, is the cytotoxic drug Paclitaxel USP, which can be hazardous to healthy human beings when in direct contact with skin. Prasad and Buddha set out to protect the glass vial from shock and breakage, as well as pilferage and tampering.

The previous carton did not provide “effective protection from breakage,” says Durga Prasad. Instead, Durga Prasad and Buddha selected a rigid PVC blister with aluminum lidstock and sealed it into a new carton using pressure-sensitive water-based adhesive. The blister provides tamper evidence and can contain any liquid should the glass vial break.

Since the introduction of the new packaging early this year, however, no vials have broken. In 2004, seven vials broke within the previous package. “The Ecobliss carton cost is higher than the existing conventional carton,” says Prasad. “But the savings are phenomenal due to zero vial breakages.”

The paperboard carton is designed with a gap between the carton and the blister. The carton absorbs any shock first, minimizing shock to the blister. The U-shaped blister holds the glass vial in place, and its ribbed design provides four-sided cushioning.

Anticounterfeiting features include the use of odd-man-out printing in which font size and style are varied so slightly as to fool a counterfeiter but still be recognized by the manufacturer. Also, an embossed translucent hologram sticker with three overt and three covert features is used to seal the carton. The sticker is also tamper evident, joining such other tamper-evident features as a tear-tab opening mechanism, aluminum-foil lid, and a flip-off vial seal. Literature and child resistance are also provided.

For more information on the Ameristar Awards, visit or contact Carole Schiller at 630/696-4006 or e-mail

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