Flexible pouches help medical products maker

It's understandable that medical products company Z-Medica Corp. proudly salutes the 4.5-mil film structure for its line of QuikClot blood-clotting products. After all, the pouch has accommodated several generations of product iterations, and is now targeted for both military operations and consumers such as sports and adventure enthusiasts who may venture far from medical attention. From Versapack , the pouches are shipped premade to Z-Medica three-side-sealed. The pouch is an adhesive lamination of polyester/foil/nylon/polypropylene. The polyester is reverse-printed in four to six colors, depending on the variety.

The consumer pouches measure 4 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. The front panel carries the QuikClot name and beneath it the specific variety, with graphics printed in black or silver to help illustrate that variety. For example, the QuikClot Travel™ version shows a plane, car, train, and related graphics, while the QuikClot Sport™ version shows a motorcycle, canoe, etc. There are also QuikClot Nosebleed™, QuikClot Home™, and QuikClot Sport Silver™ (antibacterial) versions. All pack graphics are printed with a "Stops Bleeding Fast" tagline that's highlighted in yellow to demonstrate the product's "mission."

Back-panel graphics include an ink-jet-printed use-by date and lot number, as well as usage warnings and four-step directions for use, with four illustrations showing how to open the pack (there are two tear notches located near the top on the left and right sides of the pouch) and remove the product, which is vacuum-packed inside. Step two is the actual application of the QuikClot sponge onto the bleeding source. Applying pressure is step three. The final step is to secure QuikClot with a separate wrap, then seek medical attention. Z-Medica developed all package graphics for the various products.

Designed for one-time use, QuikClot is a hemostatic, nanotechnology-based product that's enclosed in a porous surgical fabric that conforms to the wound when applied, rapidly stopping venous and arterial bleeding. It's also designed for easy removal. Available over the counter, one or more of either the 25- or 50-g "clotting sponges" may be packed into a wound to stop bleeding in those without immediate access to medical care. The primary material in QuikClot is a mineral substance known as zeolites, the nanotechnology-based substance that is credited with saving lives in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The consumer packs retail for $9.99 and are available at retail stores and in catalogs, including www.cabelas.com.

Military origins

Wallingford, CT-based Z-Medica developed QuikClot in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Corps Warfighting Laboratory, the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, and university hospitals. Products were first used in combat in Iraq. Since then, the product has evolved from a powder/pellet product to mesh bags to the nanotechnology-based product.

This spring, Z-Medica launched QuikClot Combat Gauze™. "Now what we have is a roll of hemostatic gauze that's four yards long by three inches wide. We want the product to be as intuitive as possible," says Denny Lo, Z-Medica's director of product development.

According to Z-Medica, more than 1 million QuikClot units have been deployed for battlefield use, where the pack is opened and the product applied directly to a wound that's not amenable to tourniquet placement. The Combat Gauze pouch measures 4.1 x 5.5 in.

Lo says all packaging is done at the company's Wallingford facility, with products manually filled into pouches, which are then set on the infeed of a band sealer from Doboy. "We're taking advantage of our experience in packaging previous generations of QuickClot product. We use the machine at about a 300-feet-per-minute speed," says Lo. "We use the same pouch for the consumer products, but the graphics are more colorful, reverse-gravure-printed in six colors, whereas the Combat Gauze pouch is reverse-printed in three colors."

Lo says that the 25 to 100 packs are placed into corrugated shippers that are manually taped shut, then stretch-wrapped and placed on pallets for gamma irradiation at Steris . Finally, the products are shipped to distributors by Z-Medica.

"We've developed packages that meet the demands of military use," says Lo. "They are proven to be rugged, easy to open and easy to read, and they protect the products over a shelf life of at least three years. We also apply Six-Sigma practices to ensure a robust packaging process. It made good sense for us to apply this know-how to our first-responder and consumer products as well. Given the mission of our products, we could do no less." [HCP]

--By Jim Butschli, Editor
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