Almac (Almac Group) US Ireland packaging commercial pharma pharmaceutical drugs

Almac (Almac Group) has launched operations at a new commercial pharmaceutical packaging facility in Audubon, in the state of Pennsylvania in the US. It was built by the Pharma Services unit of Almac, with an estimated investment of $10m.

The plant has a built-up area of 100,000 square feet. Its construction was started in 2012 and completed by the end of the same year. The project was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2013.

Almac is a contract manufacturing and packaging company, headquartered in Northern Ireland. It is also engaged in pharmaceutical research and development, clinical trial supplies and formulation development.

High-speed blister packaging line details

"Almac is a contract manufacturing and packaging company, headquartered in Northern Ireland."

The plant is installed with a blister packaging line, called UPS 4. It is a high-speed packaging line manufactured by Uhlmann.

The line has a production capacity for up to 12,000 blisters each hour. It is designed to process solid orally-administered pharmaceutical products. It will be used for primary packaging of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), aclar (a moisture lockout film) and alu / alu blisters of various sizes.

The packaging line is integrated with a C2206 cartoner, which can produce up to 200 cartons a minute. The cartoner is suitable for both blisters and bottles. It measures 130mm x 100mm x 200mm in size.

Printers at the Audubon-based packaging facility

The printing system of the packaging line can print flexographic as well as digital formats on blisters, in online mode. This improves the compliance of the machine with patients and also ensures the flexibility of supply.

A total quality control centre (TQCC) is part of the packaging line. The TQCC comprises of a weight checking machine and an integrated print and vision system.

The print and vision system helps in automatic rejection of any faulty print / serialisation data including 2D codes.

Services offered by Almac’s commercial packaging plant

The plant will offer primary and secondary packaging solutions for a variety of pharmaceutical products. The products will include bottles for tablets and capsules, blister packaging, wallet packaging and hospital unit dose formats.

"The local packaging operations in the US will reduce supply risks and also generate significant cost savings for Almac."

The plant will also offer secondary packaging and labelling services for products such as vials, pens, cartridges and ampoules, manufactured by biopharmaceutical companies. In addition, it will have tooling fabrication facilities. It will employ an exclusive team for design and artwork management.

The warehouse at the plant will contain refrigerators and controlled storage facilities for drugs.

The filling lines will be compatible for filling bottles, jars and tubs with tablets, capsules or soft gels, in bulk volumes. The sensors integrated into the bottling lines enable accurate fill counts. The lines will also be integrated with labelling and component code and print verification systems.

The labelled primary container packs are further packed off into secondary formats, such as cartons, wallets / dose packs and complex kit assemblies, such as medication kits, diagnostic kits, sample kits and patient information and marketing kits.

Customers can also ship their primary packaged drugs for secondary packaging at the plant.

Benefits of the plant’s location in Pennsylvania, US

Almac has a long experience of nearly 30 years in pharmaceutical bulk manufacturing and packaging, but its operations are centred in the UK.

The establishment of US-based packaging operations will enable the company to serve its US-based customers better.

The packaging needs of these customers were, earlier, being met through production in the company’s UK facility.

The local packaging operations in the US will reduce supply risks and also generate significant cost savings for Almac.

The plant’s facilities will especially benefit the launches of orphan and niche drugs by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers of Almac, both in the US and European Union regions, says Almac.

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