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Containers made of cyclic olefins as new option for primary packaging

, Gerresheimer AG

Glass is a packaging material with a very long tradition. The very first glass vessels were produced some 3500 years ago. Due to its inertness and transparency glass has always been the preferred container material for parenteral pharmaceutics. Increasingly strict drug product requirements and the trend of customized products are, however, revealing the limits of this material. Large proteins can be extremely sensitive to interactions with the primary packaging material.

Also, biopharmaceuticals are often quite expensive. So the primary packaging has to have excellent drainability properties to minimize product wastage. Comparatively recently developed materials such as cyclic olefin polymers and especially prefillable syringes made of COP/COC provide new options for the solution of these problems. Borosilicate Type l glass and cyclo olefin polymers/copolymers both qualify as excellent materials for the primary packaging of parenterals. Nevertheless, none of these materials are perfect. Glass continues to be the preferred primary packaging material for small molecule drugs, drugs with low sensitivity to pH-shift, drugs that are oxidation or water vapor ingresssensitive.

On the other hand, it can be advantageous to package large molecule biotechnological drugs and extremely expensive drugs in cyclo olefin containers. The market for polymer containers will continue to grow as a result of the continuously increasing market share of biotech drugs and the development of innovative application systems, from auto injectors, through needleless systems to highly-customized injectable drug delivery devices. However, no material will replace the other. New packaging materials will simply cater to the specific requirements of some market niches.

, Gerresheimer AG

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