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Top 10 Healthcare Packaging Stories of 2021

Traceability content led the countdown taking four spots on our list, while sustainability and automation stories also garnered attention. Check out our top 10 and honorable mentions.


Quick Hits:

  • Stories about serialization regulations and RFID took several spots in 2021.
  • The topic of modernizing facilities with automation, biometrics, and isolators also appeared multiple times.
  • Notably, COVID-19-specific stories dipped in popularity compared to the previous year, but blow-fill-seal for vaccine production was a hot topic.

Top Ten Healthcare Packaging Articles from 2021:

  1. Serialization 101
  2. Blow-Fill-Seal Expands in Aseptic Filling, Vaccines
  3. Part 1: From Drug Supply to Staffing, Benefits of RFID Integrated into Vial Labels
  4. Data and AI Accelerate Digital Transformation in Pharma
  5. Fresenius Kabi Goes Above and Beyond DSCSA Requirements with RFID
  6. GSK’s Sarah McDonald on Advil Bottles’ 20% Plastic Reduction
  7. Med Device Market Shifting Business Models to Automation and Technology
  8. Six Trends Influencing New Pharma and Med Device Investments
  9. Exchanging Pharma Master Data: 2021 Update
  10. Global Sales of Biopharma Cold Chain Products Growing: Logistics Partners Use Lessons Learned from Pandemic to Meet Demand

Honorable Mentions:

Listen to the story here:

   Read the transcript below:

Hi, I’m Keren Sookne for Take Five Video with Healthcare Packaging. 

As we enter this new year, we’re taking a look back at our top 10 most popular articles of 2021, as well as a few honorable mentions. 

#10: We take a look at the factors that are increasing demand for cold chain storage, transport, and distribution solutions—including the growth of cell and gene therapies in Kim Overstreet’s Cold Chain Logistics: Poised for Growth with Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

By 2024 experts predict that five out of the top ten best-selling drugs will require refrigerated storage and handling, and the article discusses cold chain considerations from a 3PL’s point of view. 

Coming in at #9 is Pharma Supply Chain: Master Data Exchange in 2021. It’s no surprise that traceability made our top 10 list four separate times, particularly as we hurdle toward the Drug Supply Chain Security Act’s 2023 milestones. In this article, we talk about how data exchange needs to move from today’s manual processes to automated operations, and experts talk progress with exchanging EPCIS files.

At number 8 and 7 are trend pieces on the pharma and medical device markets:

Six Trends Influencing New Pharma and Med Device Investments and Med Device Market Shifting Business Models to Automation and Technology.

These articles take a look at how automation, self-administration of drugs, and other factors are shifting capital investments. And #7 drills down into some of the ways that medical device companies are finding efficiencies, and how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19.

No surprise that sustainability also made our top 10. At #6, we cover GSK’s 20% material reduction in Advil bottles. I talked with GSK’s Sarah McDonald about the technology behind the switch to a new barrier resin technology that reduces the amount of material required, as well as larger sustainability goals around renewable energy and more.

At #5, Fresenius Kabi Goes Above and Beyond DSCSA Requirements. 

We cover how the company sought to add RFID for traceability on vials to meet customer wishes… using GS1 standards. Lessons learned during implementation included that the environment can interfere with antennas, so be careful about placement of things like large metal ladders or the presence of water. 

At No. 4 was Melissa Griffen’s comprehensive recap, Data and AI Accelerate Digital Transformation in Pharma, including talk of digitalizing paper records, making the most of data, and how AI can models can boost regulatory compliance.

At #3: From Drug Supply to Staffing, the Benefits of RFID Integrated into Vial Labels

Revisiting the topic of RFID on our list, we cover ways that the technology benefits health systems, this time from the perspective of the manager of pharmacy operations at the Allegheny Health Network.He shared how automated traceability systems help with ensuring drug supply, saving resources in stocking the right drugs, and even helping justify staffing levels.

#2 in our countdown: Blow-Fill-Seal Expands in Aseptic Filling, Vaccines

A technical director highlights the ways that blow-fill-seal (BFS) is expanding in the life sciences offering a reduction in container weight and more. With features such as pre-fabricated PODs and temperature control, the doors are opening for new pharma applications, but these advancements require a lot of forethought in physical layout, utilities, quality attitudes, and more. 

As I mentioned before, traceability content was very popular with readers this year. In our #1 spot, Kim Overstreet provides an overview of serialization in both the pharma and med device arenas. I think both of these communities still have a way to go in education and implementation among small and mid-size manufacturers, and certainly among dispensers.

Now, I’d like to highlight some of our honorable mentions—these are articles that just missed the top ten, some of which were published recently.

Topics ranged from design and aesthetics—such as our annual package design gallery—to automation and manufacturing technology where we recapped modern tech for life science plants and also profiled a metered dose inhaler line with 18 integrated modules. Sustainability in logistics is a major ongoing topic and we saw that with a new biobased shipper sourced from corn and sugar beets. 

Links to all these articles appear below. That’s all for today—we’re so excited for the stories we’re working on 2022. See you next time at Take Five video for Healthcare Packaging!

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