The first pharmaceutical and diagnostic products using a desiccant film developed by packaging company Alcan could be on the market in 2006.
The desiccant film has the ability to change a typical foil lamination to a moisture absorbing, protective package, building the desiccant activity into the packaging itself and eliminating costs associated with using desiccant canisters and packets, which can sometimes require secondary packaging lines for insertion.
Alcan estimates that using the dessicant film in place of traditional sachets could cut costs by around 10 to 15 per cent.
Alcan's film has been available to pharmaceutical companies since 2002, but has yet to feature in any commercialised products, according to a report from UK-based packaging consultancy Pira.
Several pharmaceutical and medical companies, mainly in the US, are running stability tests on the film, and could be in a position to launch products in the latter half of 2006, said Pira.
The chemical desiccant can be incorporated into both films and rigid bottles. The material scavenges the headspace, as well as protecting products from moisture entering the pack.
The film can be made into a pouch, foil blister, roll stock and in strips. The desiccant technology is integrated into both foil laminates and barrier laminates with oriented polypropylene (OPP) and metallised polyester.
Other companies developing packaging impregnated with desiccants include Sud Chemie, which is exploring the use of desiccants in plastics and recently launched a desiccant 'joint ' or washer, made from polypropylene, designed to reside where the cap joins the bottle and rest in the neck of a pharmaceutical container.
The washer is claimed to be suitable for use when the presence of a loose desiccant within pharmaceutical packaging is undesirable, for example for powdered pharmaceuticals that need reconstitution with water.
Meanwhile, Tekni-Plex and partner CSP technologies have been exploring the use of desiccants that can be incorporated in reservoirs within blister packaging, usually attached to the base foil.