How digital printing technology makes supply chains more secure, production lines more profitable and manufacturing more sustainable

Efficient coding and serialization of veterinary drugs

How digital printing technology makes supply chains more secure, production lines more profitable and manufacturing more sustainable

When it comes to medication for humans, coding, serialization, and track & trace solutions have long been an effective means of combating product counterfeits, maintaining regulatory compliance, and of course patient safety. In the meantime, however, interest is also growing among manufacturers of veterinary medicine. Experts such as the "Health for Animals" organization estimate that counterfeit veterinary medicines account for about three percent or 1 billion US dollars of the worldwide turnover of around 30 billion US dollars (1).  Recently, there have also been increasing warnings from authorities in this regard (2). Disruptions in the supply chain make medicine availability less reliable in stores (3). When veterinary drugs are not available in certain markets, people simply seek them out themselves – on the Internet.  Since the beginning of 2022, the EU market has been governed by Regulation (EU) 2019/6 (4). Corresponding requirements for a quality assurance system are not only intended to ensure the quality and integrity of the veterinary drugs supplied; they also aim to ensure that the products remain in secure supply chains during transport and storage.

Effective and economical

Today, digital inline on-demand printing makes it easier than ever to implement effective artwork, coding and serialization for veterinary medicines – especially for blister packs. Above all, this technology makes economic sense: medication for humans and animals is usually very similar in its composition and mode of action. However, they differ significantly in the variety of dosages. While medication for humans is often only differentiated between children and adults, there are significantly more gradations for animals due to the wide variety in weight. This leads to an even greater variety of stock-keeping units than for human medication. As a result, production lines often have multiple product changeovers, leaving manufactures with more downtime than uptime on their packaging lines. There is also a costly inventory of pre-printed blister foils. The aspect of wasting resources cannot be neglected either: especially in times of uncertain supply chains, pharmaceutical companies are inclined to take the precaution of storing a little more pre-printed foils to avoid possible bottlenecks. The downside is that a considerable amount of unused pre-printed material will be disposed of later. This is costly and contradicts the idea of a sustainable production. From an environmental point of view, it would make more sense to only print the exact amount of foil that is needed.

Variable data even for an individual blister pocket

Digital inline printing makes it possible to apply unique codes to the packaging as the basis of efficient track & trace applications. It also helps to increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and makes it possible to conserve resources by eliminating large inventories of pre-printed foil. Printing with Hapa DOD technologies on blister foils delivers a razor-sharp print image of characters and codes, even with fonts such as Chinese, Cyrillic or Arabic. If required, Hapa systems can print variable data at each individual blister pocket. The use of digital printing technology is now the most efficient and safest method to ensure validated printing in a pharmaceutical environment, especially for systems integrated in a GMP-compliant setting. Hapa specializes in such pharmaceutical and veterinary applications. The spectrum ranges from single-color printers exclusively for variable data printing to full color printing systems that can handle the complete artwork including the branding of a blister. The use of color coding can also serve as a safety feature:  to quickly identify different dosages – even if the secondary packaging is no longer at hand.

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