RPC to open new cleanroom for pharmaceutical products

Will start manufacturing in 2014

RPC Group, a UK-headquartered rigid plastic packaging manufacturer, is building a new cleanroom production hall at its RPC Formatec plant in Mellrichstadt, Germany to enable future growth in pharmaceutical products.

The 3,000m2 Class D (100,000) cleanroom production hall will include a 1,000m2 controlled area plus a warehouse and logistics.

Alfons Boeckmann, Director RPC Bramlage-Wiko Cluster, said the new cleanroom production hall would be completed in the next 6 months and would start manufacturing a pharmaceutical product, which is not yet on the market, in 2014.

RPC manufactures rigid plastic packaging using three conversion processes: injection moulding (complex designs, high level decoration, high added value), blow moulding (re-closable, narrow neck, pourable) and thermoforming (high-volume, low cost, barrier applications). The company’s total turnover was £1.1bn for the half year to 30 September 2012. It employs more than 7,000 people across 50 operations in 18 countries.

Pharmaceutical products include blister-, capsule- and reservoir-based dry powder inhalers and pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs), which are manufactured at RPC Formatec.

The Twistnhale inhalation system for blister-based powders

The company has extended its range of inhalation systems with the introduction of the new Twist’n’hale solution for blister-based powders.

The Twist’n’hale features a turning wheel on the side of the container. When the cap is opened, the wheel is rotated clockwise in a single movement up to the stop point, which releases the dose. The user then inhales and closes the cap. Usage is monitored via a dose counter and reloading the dispenser is said to be a simple task.

RPC said the patented multidose inhaler offers accuracy of dosing and dispersion over a range of flow rates (RSD prototype <8%). It delivers a consistent fine particle fraction (% aerosolised particles <5µ).

The Twist’n’hale is suitable for adhesive types of powder blends and a variety of drugs, and can be tailored to different dosing amounts. A choice of decoration options is available to personalise the dispenser for individual medicines.

Boeckmann said RPC’s decentralised approach to design means that innovations in each of the markets in which it operates can be transferred into another.

The patented Gizmo closure, for example, provides a pressurised bottle cap where all the ingredients are contained and only released when the cap is opened. Boeckmann said such a device could have applications in the pharmaceutical sector where powders need to be mixed with liquids at the patient’s bedside.

The Gizmo system comprises a miniature pressurised injection-moulded chamber, which operates in combination with various Gizmo closure designs. The chamber is tailored to hold the precise required volume of powdered ingredients. Product integrity for every ingredient is assured.

Boeckmann said the company is also looking at the possibility of developing pumps for dispensing wet pharmaceutical products in the future.

Pim Vervaat is the new Chief Executive at RPC Group

RPC’s Chief Executive of 24 years, Ron Marsh, is to retire on 1 May. His successor is Pim Vervaat, who has been with the company for 5 years. He said RPC aims to optimise its pan-European thermoforming and injection moulding and spread production across its plants, which will mean the closure of operations in Antwerp (Belgium) and Beuningen (The Netherlands).

Going forward, he aims to grow the company in new geographical areas through acquisitions, partnerships or joint ventures.

‘We aim to build a sustainable and meaningful presence with higher-value products in emerging markets within the next 5 years, but we need to find the right partners and opportunities,’ he said.

Higher value-added products, which include inhalers, grew by a CAGR of 15% between 2009/10 and 30 September 2012 and now represent 31% of group turnover.