Think of iconic packaging brands and the likes of Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup may come to mind. But in the world of personal and medical lubricants, there’s a rich history in the blue-and-white tube of H-R® Lubricating Jelly that dates back to 1925. That’s when Margaret Sanger and J. Noah Slee imported the product from Germany and started Holland & Rantos. HR Pharmaceuticals still sells the 4oz product in the venerable tube, but as of late August, the company gave the tube a partner – a sachet – available in 3g and 5g versions.
Jon P. Wiesman, president and CEO of York, PA-based HR Pharmaceuticals, says the company decided to invest in packet production late last year. "With only a 4oz tube offering, we were considered a one-trick pony in the industry. When I went into the big distributors, I realized that they would not change an entire line of SKUs for one product, no matter how storied. We desperately needed to offer a 3g pouch, a 5g pouch, and a 4oz tube."
Wiesman turned his attention to film selection. "We learned that films used for condoms are also a Class-2 medical device, and we discovered through Internet research that the material was provided by Winpak Heat Seal Packaging."
Enter Bill Sharpless, Winpak’s business development manager-healthcare packaging, who helped HR Pharmaceuticals move the process to what Wiesman describes as the second stage. "We had not worked with Winpak previously, and we were in the process of securing some major multiyear accounts; Winpak became an integral financial partner to achieve success."
Winpak manufactures and distributes packaging materials and related packaging machines, therefore was able to offer HR Pharmaceuticals what Sharpless refers to as a "systems sale". He explains that Winpak Heat Seal Corp. purchased a Winpak Lane W-12 vertical form/fill/seal pouch/sachet packaging machine and leased it to HR Pharmaceuticals, which purchases the pouch materials from Winpak. Under this creative arrangement, HR was able to launch the product to market and stretch out the capital equipment cost over a longer period of time.
Easy-opening, convenient sleeves
As important as the line of sachets is to HR Pharmaceuticals, Wiesman sought further product differentiation. "Our competitors offer sachets as well," he notes, "but they are all individual pouches packed loosely into boxes." Wiesman designed three specific points of differentiation for our sachets, and says, "Winpak put it to fruition."
The first is the "Connected Strip™" of six sachets along with a "Quick Tear/EZ Open™" with an incorporated "Directional Spout™" that allows the easy opening and applied integrity of the lubricant. "When you tear open other lubricant pouches they rip down the side and create a mess," says Wiesman. "Working in conjunction with Winpak, we designed a sachet that will be a unique industry changer. We also made it ambidextrous, even though it is primarily a right-handed-compatible sachet because about 80% of the US population is right-handed."
The multilane W-12 machine is capable of running a variety of pumpable products at rates of up to 650 pouches/min, although the Florida CP runs HR Pharmaceutical’s sachets at about 350/min at this point.
HR Pharmaceutical’s Wiesman says, "The Winpak machine produces a package that is going to change the way people are going to look at these pouches, and I think it’s going to change the way packaging is done for some of these medical devices."
Weisman notes that as of this fall, HR Pharmaceuticals is now an approved vendor in the top five major US pharmaceutical medical device distributors that will require the addition of a W-18 unit that can produce 10g and 20g units as well as the 3g and 5g units. "This will allow HR Pharmaceuticals to offer a full complement of products making our future much brighter thanks to Winpak."