All-Star Innovators 2014

Pharma’s tech bench gets deeper with an All-Star lineup ready for the big leagues

By Steven E. Kuehn, Editor-in-Chief

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Glass ampoules, vials and other vessels have been on Pharma’s team a long time and possess many superior qualities. However, commercial-scale handling of glass in Pharma filling and handling operations is prone to create contamination issues from (relatively) rough handling. Garvy Corp.’s Infinity RX 36 Table Top Accumulator is a potential trade for traditional rotary table or turntable accumulators in product-handling environments. The Infinity RX 36 can out-feed products faster than a traditional rotary table and with less pressure and no damage, says the company, and requires the same footprint as a traditional rotary table while greatly reducing the pressure and noise associated with rotary table accumulators.

Hamilton Storage Technologies’ LabElite Benchtop Line offers users end-to-end, automated liquid sample processing, decapping, recapping and high-speed barcode reading. This innovator from Hamilton provides the market with the first system where users have the ability to positively identify the tube chosen for decapping/recapping and track it throughout the workflow. The LabElite I.D. capper enables labs to combine decapping/recapping and high-speed barcode reading within one device without additional user interaction. When sample tracking is not required, the LabElite DeCapper is ready for decapping and recapping tubes in 48-cryovial or 96-microtube racks. A new feature can automatically move the racks from portrait to landscape formats.

Process gas handling is often a critical control parameter, and the 544 Series IntelliSwitch IIv from CONCOA is designed to routinely switch between two gas sources without interruption. This team player offers reliable high-flow, high-pressure switching in the most demanding applications and environments. Economization software virtually eliminates liquid cylinder vent loss and substantially reduces residual return. Switching is actuated as inlet pressure falls below a user-defined point by means of a Web interface or a serial port. A server allows for remote monitoring and e-mail notification of events.

Conveying fragile, friable products to and from an operation along the line takes a player with a gentle touch. Flexicon Corp.’s Flexi-Disc Tubular Cable Conveyors have that touch able to move delicate pharmaceutical products gently, quietly and dust-free, horizontally, vertically or any angle with minimal space requirements. The conveyors are designed to integrate with upstream and/or downstream equipment that sources material from single or multiple locations and deliver it selectively to storage vessels, filling machines or other processing equipment. Flexi-Disc conveyor moves materials using high-strength polymer discs in 4- and 6-inch diameters affixed to a stainless-steel or galvanized cable. Systems can have single or multiple inlets and outlets, and convey over short distances or hundreds of feet/meters.

Attention to detail provides Bosch Packaging Technology’s Manesty TPR 500 Tablet Press an innovative edge. Built for commercial, high-volume line duty, Bosch’s press can produce more than 400,000 tablets per hour and features well-integrated components and an advanced HMI to deliver high throughput as well as reduced maintenance requirements. For instance, filling parameters can be reproduced to consistently support high-quality yields. To ensure the smooth delivery of tablets, its True Flow tablet discharge chute features a pneumatic gate mechanism and an optimized take-off angle, which the company says reduces product damage and increases output, especially with shaped/friable tablets.

Dosing compliance is an issue both Pharma and health care professionals are seeking answers for, and 3M is applying its vast materials and manufacturing experience to solve them. Its Hollow Microstructured Transdermal System is a patient-friendly intradermal delivery solution designed for difficult-to-deliver biologics and other therapies. Human factor refinements to the 3M hMTS include a textured grip and the capability for non-specific actuation. A cap protects the microneedle array, which patients simply remove, adhere to the skin of the thigh or abdomen, then press down to begin dosing. An audible click assures activation. The FDA-approved device is capable of delivering liquid formulations from 0.5 mL to 2 mL.

Achieving better performance per dose is something GlaxoSmithKline wanted for its FDA-approved type 2 diabetes drug and Novozymes’ VELTIS Half Life Extension Platform provided via its Veltis albiglutide technology that helps diabetes therapies achieve an extended half-life; patients are only required to inject their medication once a week. Veltis’ half-life extension platform is based on engineered albumins that enable manufacturers to define and optimize the therapeutic window of their drug candidate to help control dose frequency, dose quantity and improve drug tolerability. The platform also offers the ability to provide once-weekly, once two-weekly or once-monthly peptide or protein dosing.

West designed the SmartDose patch injector system technology to be a single-use system ready to deliver higher-dose volumes by injecting therapies slowly over a period of time. SmartDose can be pre-programmed and controlled to provide the optimal dosing rate because many injectable drugs currently on the market require repeated dosing and are intended for self-administration. West’s system is delivered in a single package; patients insert the cartridge into the device’s injector and adheres the system to the body. A push of a button inserts the needle and starts the injection, which is delivered over time, based on instructions entered by the drug company. Visible/audible indicators confirm operation of the system.

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