How Will Automation Technology Enable Price Reduction for Medications?
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How Will Automation Technology Enable Price Reduction for Medications?

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Thursday, October 03, 2019

The integration of automation technology in packaging operations is not only enhancing productivity, but also facilitating seamless compliance with the changing regulations.

FREMONT, CA: The global pharmaceutical market is expanding with the increasing demand for effective drugs. To optimize the production process and meet the requirements of the customers, pharmaceutical organizations are adopting robust, innovative technology to deliver safer and more effective medications at affordable prices.

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly investing in automation technologies to streamline the drug development and packaging process and speed up the approval. The PMMI report produced by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies states that almost 50 percent of the pharmaceutical companies are integrating line automation technology to enhance their operation and services.

Automation reduces operator failures, leading to the elimination of downtime. It facilitates enhanced quality control in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industries. The technology holds great promise in small-batch pharmaceuticals and unit dose packaging. It can promote the enhancements and innovations in the packaging process necessary to maintain high quality and seamlessly meet the compliance requirements.

The overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) has entered the pharma sector, with numerous organizations seeking robust improvements in their operations to drive production and packaging efficiency. The emerging markets across the world and greater accessibility to treatment and medication are boosting the growth of automation technology in pharmaceutical production and packaging.

The stats for the pharmaceutical industry indicate that access to medication is increasing, with the spending expected to reach $1.4 trillion by the year 2020. The process improvements facilitated by automation will enable organizations to offer higher price reductions without cutting down the profit.

The packaging process has been an afterthought in the pharmaceutical industry. However, the rise in automation has enabled the contract service providers to emerge as robust innovators and make immense strides in streamlining the packaging process. An enhanced packaging process facilitated by packaging automation technology will not only enable organizations to optimize production costs but also reduce drug pricing.

The evolving packaging needs and compliance requirements have spurred pharmaceutical organizations to equip their facilities with robust technology or outsource the packaging process to contract packaging organizations utilizing automation technology. The challenges in the pharmaceutical industry include keeping pace with the demands, maintaining regulatory compliance, labeling requirements, retail requests, and so on. Pharma companies often outsource the packaging process to avert the high cost of equipment upgrades, space limitations, and recruitment of experienced and skilled staff.

Contract packaging organizations face the same challenges as pharmaceutical organizations. However, they are in a better position to adapt to the technological revolution when compared to the pharma companies with the responsibility of focusing on drug discovery and development.

Although most pharmaceutical companies outsource packaging to contract organizations, small-batch specialty drugs often do not meet the volume requirements. Hence, pharma companies face the need to implement compact automation units for the packaging of low-volume products. Automation enables them to efficiently serialize, calibrate, validate, and test their product in a repeatable process.

Packaging compliance is also evolving, with more focus on quality. Packaging organizations are witnessing a rise in requests for the unit dose package for single drug-dose delivery in barcoded and non-reusable containers. Single-dose delivery not only offers fewer medication errors but also provides better portability. The development of user-friendly packaging makes it easier for patients to handle and administer the medications.

Robotic automation enhances the consistency and quality of packaging flow by eliminating the human error factor. Pharmaceutical organizations are incorporating collaborative robots to reduce mistakes and streamline their processes. Collaborative technology enables the staff to work alongside the robots in the workstations and improve productivity.

The evolution of packaging automating is transforming the role of human staff in the processes. Pharmaceutical companies are seeking new and effective ways to automate their process and reach production targets. The integration of robust automation allows real-time data tracking, facilitating seamless compliance with the regulations.

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