The market for over-the-counter (OTC) pharma products has developed rapidly in recent years. The ALPLA Group’s pharma packaging division ALPLApharma is responding to this by expanding its manufacturing technology for OTC bottles with the addition of flexible extrusion blow moulding (EBM), which makes sustainable and customer-specific packaging solutions possible in this area.
Following a strong growth phase, demand for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and food supplements has been very volatile over the past two years. There was also a decline in the sale of, for example, cold and flu remedies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the global measures implemented to contain it (contact restrictions, mandatory face coverings, reduced mobility). At the same time, vitamins and drugs that boost immune defence enjoyed a sharp upswing. The market for OTC products is forecast to remain on the growth path seen in recent years, but with the sales channels increasingly shifting in the direction of mail order business. At the same time, SME vendors are also entering the market with new and innovative products.
Sustainable and weight-optimised containers
ALPLApharma has recognised this market potential and is expanding its OTC container production capacities. In addition to the injection blow moulding (IBM) technology the company has been using until now, it will henceforth also offer its customers EBM technology in its production activities. This is a standard technology at the ALPLA sites around the world and the company has decades of proven expertise in this field. ‘The market for OTC containers is becoming more and more important for us. In the USA in particular, what’s known as the pill container market is now huge. At the same time, the customers’ requirements regarding sustainable, weight-reduced and cost-effective containers have increased around the world, which is why we are expanding both our technological and commercial scope with EBM and are in a position to cater to a wider array of requests,’ says Walter Knes, ALPLA Managing Director ALPLApharma.
Arriving at the optimum packaging together
All the advantages that the EBM procedure offers will also be applied to OTC container production. For example, EBM technology allows the thickness of the container walls to be adapted to the type and consistency of the contents. At the same time, it allows the sealing surface at the neck opening to be increased, thus also increasing leak tightness. There is additionally the option of combining different thin-walled layers with product-specific oxygen barriers. ‘Overall, EBM affords the customers the flexibility to work with us to identify just the right OTC packaging for their product and requirements – all usually in a continuous improvement process involving a single mould. The throughput times are also faster, which results in greater output,’ says Andreas Lorenz, Technical Account Manager at ALPLA, explaining the additional advantages of the technology being offered.
Matching childproof cap
As a system provider, ALPLApharma also offers the perfect caps for its OTC bottles. These include CRC justONE, a unique, childproof screw cap with a tamper-evident band which is highly efficiently manufactured in a single injection moulding process and then directly assembled. Conventional caps are produced in three separate production steps and then assembled later.