Drug companies turn to blow-fill-seal for vaccines and more

Healthy demand for unit-dose pharmaceutical packaging, particularly for aseptically filled liquid medications, is creating an opportunity for blow-fill-seal (BFS) technology suppliers and their customers.

Used for the aseptic packaging of ophthalmic products, respiratory (inhaled) medications, biologics and vaccines and other injectable drugs, BFS technology enables continuous, automated forming, filling and sealing of unit-dose liquid packs.

Package formats include ampoules, vials and bottles, and product sterility can be assured throughout the process. Benefits of BFS, versus glass packaging, include reduced waste and breakage and the elimination of product preservatives, which patients may be allergic to.

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BFS technology is expected to reach a market value of US$2 billion in 2019 and experience a compound annual growth rate of about 8% between 2019 and 2029, with North America and Western Europe representing the largest markets for BFS pharmaceutical products, according to a recent technology report from Future Market Insights (FMI).

FMI identifies Catalent Inc., The Ritedose Corp., Unipharma LLC and Unither Pharmaceuticals as the “tier 1 players” in BFS technology globally. Of these, Catalent, Ritedose and Unipharma are headquartered in the United States.

Unither, which is based in France, runs two high-speed unit-dose BFS lines in France plus one in Rochester, NY. The company operates a commercial office and laboratory in China, as well. Also in Asia Pacific, UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) fills BFS vaccines at GSK Australia’s Boronia facility, near Melbourne.

Pharmaceutical companies in other regions are also making strides in the global BFS market. For example, India-based Sentiss, a provider of BFS ophthalmic and inhaled medications, says it is the first Indian company to commercialize BFS eye drops in the Russian market. Sentiss uses the technology to create unit-dose and multidose packaging.

 

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