US nanotechnology company NanoInk has said it wants to forge partnerships with packaging companies to develop a layered brand protection solution for pharmaceutical customers.
The company has been working on a project to apply its dip pen nanolithography process to individual unit doses of drugs, but now wants to broaden its utility into pharmaceutical packaging.
The company's CEO, Cedric Loiret-Bernal, said that the unit-dose printing process can add key data such as the origin of the pill, when it was made, to whom it was shipped and its expiry date, according to a report from UK packaging consultancy Pira. It would be advantageous to have the same mark on the packaging to indicate if any repackaging had taken place, he suggested.
Most pharmaceutical brand protection methods focus on authenticating pharmaceutical products at the package level, which has the advantage of helping track the history of a product while wholesalers, distributors, pharmacists can validate in the field. But the combination of unit-dose and pack-level technologies can be used to prevent individual unit doses being switched within a tagged box or container.
Loiret-Bernal said that some regulatory bodies, including the European Medical Agency do not like other unit dose technologies such as taggants, so dip pen lithography could represent a technology suitable for use around the world.
Nanoink-marked pills will not be able to be authenticated in the field, notes Pira. Instead, they will be sent to an auditing centre set up by NanoInk. The company said it plans to set up six auditing centres around the world, with a total capacity to audit 50 million pills a year.
Even with shipping time taken into account, this will be a speedier process than traditional lab-based verification testing, which uses analytical methods such as liquid chromatography, said Loiret-Bernal.