south asian
Scott Young, Ph.D., vice president, Container Systems, Innovation and Technology West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc.

It is no secret that South Asia is home to a vast and booming pharmaceutical market, one that is poised to serve more and more customers and patients both locally and far beyond its borders. Over the past several years, one of the fastest growing segments in the region is biologic drugs, which are used to treat chronic conditions because of their potential to offer patients better long-term outcomes and fewer side effects than traditional, chemical-based therapies. The biosimilar market is also growing driven by the fact that many biologics are scheduled to come off patent in the coming years.

And the shift is not going anywhere. According to the recent Quintiles IMS report, ‘Outlook for Global Medicines through 2021,’ pharmerging markets such as India will continue to be driven by non-original products over the next several years. At the same time, there is also a shift toward regulatory bodies in India and elsewhere across the Asia Pacific region increasing their focus on quality standards and lower particle burden for injectable drug products. Greater regulatory scrutiny and quality standards are placing added demands on drug manufacturers, suppliers and contract service providers. Motivated by concerns for patient safety, regulatory agencies in India and around the world are asking drug and packaging manufacturers to build quality into their products from the start to ensure consistent quality throughout a drug product’s lifecycle.

An evolving containment market

Given this increased focus on safety from regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical companies must now take a closer look at how they will contain their drug. For the majority of drugs, glass remains the preferred containment material. However, glass containment – while suitable for many drug products – can present compatibility challenges with biologics. Undesirable interactions include breakage, delamination, particulates in the suspension and design limitations that don’t allow for higher doses. The latter is relevant because biologic drugs are often made in larger doses and given less frequently.

Enter cyclic olefin polymers (COPs), which can be molded into a variety of shapes and designs. These systems can be designed to enable larger fill volumes and tighter dimensional tolerances, meaning manufacturers can optimize functionality and performance. The factors contributing to the increase of COPs include:

Breakage: A single dose of a biologic drug can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And unlike chemical drugs, for which a 90% price drop can be seen for generic versions, biosimilars commonly cost only 20-30% less than their biologics counterparts. Given these prices, breakage in a clinic or at home presents not only a patient or employee safety issue, but also a major cost concern. Plastics solve that problem.

Supplying a global market: As regulatory agencies crack down on the safety of drugs and their delivery devices and South Asian biopharmaceutical manufacturers of biologics and biosimilars set their sights on supplying a more global market, it will be increasingly important to show regulatory agencies that quality measures are built into the products that deliver their drug. This quality assurance will be essential in order to become leaders in the biologic and biosimilar market. COPs help to address many of the concerns of glass containment for biologics and therefore provide an attractive alternative.

Cost: Problems with primary containment materials can result in delayed regulatory approvals, packaging variability and shortages of needed drug product on the market. All three problems can significantly damage a company’s bottom line as well as its reputation. But higher quality can come with higher investment, so the challenge for drug containment manufacturers becomes achieving the balance between managing the costs of provide higher-quality products while staying mindful of the customers’ total cost and profitability. Polymers can help companies to address this intersection of higher quality and improved overall cost.

Packaging South Asia — resilient, growing and impactful — daily, monthly — always responsive

The multi-channel B2B in print and digital 17-year-old platform matches the industry’s growth trajectory. The Indian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle East packaging industries are looking beyond the resilience of the past three years. They are resuming capacity expansion and diversification, with high technology and automation in new plants and projects.

As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

For responsible and sustainable packaging, with its attendant regulations and compliances, there is significant headroom to grow in India and the region. Our coverage includes the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and to waste collection, sorting, and recycling.

We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers. This is a large and complex canvas – the only thing that can work is your agile thinking and innovation together with our continuous learning and persistence.

The coming year looks to be an up year in this region, and this is the right time to plan your participation and marketing communication – in our rich and highly targeted business platform with human resources on the ground. Share your thoughts and plans to inspire and mobilize our editorial and advertising teams!

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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