Innovations

Our innovations for products and processes

Part of our growth strategy is to devise innovative products and solutions and meet our customers’ increasingly stringent quality requirements. We continuously invest in optimizing production and product quality as well as in our product portfolio, working closely with our customers and partners from industry, universities, and other institutions.

Reliable dosage of liquid drugs

By acquiring the Swiss technology company Sensile Medical, Gerresheimer significantly strengthened and expanded its product portfolio in the summer of 2018. Sensile Medical’s innovations are based on its proprietary micro pump technology, which forms the centerpiece in its range of infusion devices. This pump technology is continuously being further developed and improved and is patent-protected until the 2030s.

All Sensile Medical’s liquid-drug delivery systems are based on this technological platform and allow the flexible, precise, and reliable administration of liquid drugs for various indications, including the self-treatment of diabetes and Parkinson’s. The wearable micro pumps are the cornerstone of Gerresheimer’s Advanced Technologies division, in which the company has bundled its activities developing and producing intelligent drug delivery systems.

Alongside this core technology, Sensile has developed additional modules that can be integrated into custom solutions in any number of new ways, like a high-tech modular construction kit. This allows Sensile to formulate solutions adapted to patients’ treatment and needs, meaning they do not have to fit themselves around a standard solution. We firmly believe that this is both a long-term and flexible solution that will meet market and patient requirements.

Sensile Medical currently has several projects with global pharmaceutical companies at various stages of development. Its other areas of innovation include device connectivity and additional digital solutions for the entire care chain. In September 2018, a wearable micro pump from Sensile Medical used to treat advanced Parkinson’s disease received a CE certification for the European market.

Our development centers as drivers of innovation

Our development centers as drivers of innovation

We have four development centers known as Technical Competence Centers (TCC) working in the field of medical systems. Experts at our TCC in Wackersdorf (Germany), Peachtree City (Georgia, U.S.), and Dongguan City (China) spend their time developing and engineering customer-specific medical products made of plastic. The center in Wackersdorf was extended and produces new glass products. Part of this process involves small-scale production facilities for prefillable syringe systems and cartridges made of glass. We also have another TCC for prefillable syringe systems and safety accessories in Bünde (Germany), while Gerresheimer item specializes in developing and designing pharmaceutical and medical technology products.

By enhancing our design and development expertise, we are continuously coming up with new projects and innovative product ideas. Our various areas of expertise come together at the TCC in Wackersdorf, from initial development, planning series production (industrialization), and mould making through to setting up and testing machinery and tools, small batch production and prototyping. The center also draws on, applies, and implements new developments and ideas from customers, industry, and academia. One of these trends in medical technology is miniaturization. Micro injection moulding requires new technological expertise in mould making and injection moulding as well as in validation and process control.

We are promoting innovations in pharmaceutical glass and primary glass packaging in our own Gx Glass Innovation and Technology Center. Located near the Vineland tubular glass converting plant in the USA, we are able to develop new products and processes in close proximity to our production site, incorporating the operational know-how of the engineers from this plant. The team collaborates with our customers working on new products, further digitalization, process capabilities, camera inspection systems and much more.

Safety syringes and other syringe innovations

Ultra-clean syringes with protection against needlestick injuries

Safety is key when it comes to using syringes – not just for patients but for medical staff too. With their exposed cannulas, used syringes are a constant source of risk, for example. Although existing needle protection systems reduce the risk of injury, they make syringes more complex for pharma companies to fill. With the Gx InnoSafe®, Gerresheimer is offering a syringe with an integrated passive safety system which avoids inadvertent needlestick injuries and prevents the syringe from being reused. What is more, it can be integrated seamlessly into pharma companies’ production processes and is typically intuitive and simple for medical staff to use. That’s because the protection mechanism is activated automatically, with no extra steps involved whatsoever. Pharmacists can use the new syringes without the need for any major changes to existing filling lines because no additional assembly stage is required for the safety system.

Many new drugs—above all biotech and oncology drugs—set the bar even higher for primary pharma packaging. We are developing an extensive portfolio of new and improved products for this fast-growing market. The Gx RTF® ClearJect® syringe is a perfect complement to the broad portfolio of prefillable Gx RTF® glass syringes. It combines the existing syringe portfolio made from cyclic olefin polymer (COP)—a high-performance plastic—with the ready-to-fill concept featured on Gerresheimer’s prefillable glass syringes. The first product in the new line, a 1 ml syringe with integrated cannula, is being manufactured by Gerresheimer in Europe. COP offers numerous advantages as a material. In particular, there is no need during processing for additives such as tungsten or adhesive for the cannula. This makes the Gx RTF® ClearJect® syringe especially well-suited to drugs with exacting requirements.

The prefillable glass syringes marketed by Gerresheimer as Gx RTF® syringes also undergo continuous enhancement to make them the primary packaging of choice for new drugs. One problem associated with syringe use is that traces of tungsten or other metals occasionally leave residue behind in the bore when the syringe cone is shaped. Especially for drugs based on biotech products, prefillable syringes are needed that ideally preclude the possibility of metal contamination.

Injection vials of the very highest quality

Injection vials of the very highest quality

One result of our global investment in optimizing our production processes is the development of the Gx® Elite product range made of glass. These high-end tubular glass vials made of type I borosilicate glass are our response to increasingly stringent customer demands on the pharmaceutical market and greater demands for patient safety. They are two to three times more robust than standard type I glass, significantly more shatter-resistant on the filling line, and exceed the industry standard by a long way when it comes to lyophilization. Thanks to comprehensive optimization of the manufacturing process, the risks that can lead to product defects are avoided, including glass-to-glass and glass-to-metal contact. The Gx® Elite vials are highly robust, free from cosmetic defects, and boast extremely accurate dimensions. They can also be integrated seamlessly into different filling lines, providing customers with greater quality at lower costs.

Gx® RTF vials are a standardized platform for prefillable, sterile injection vials, made from molded from Type I glass borosilicate glass tubes. They fulfill all common requirements of the applicable ISO standards and pharmacopoeias. The vials are washed in the clean room, packed in trays or in the nest and tub, get sterilized and then shipped to the pharmaceutical customers. Gerresheimer offers its own packaging configurations as well as the well-known Ompi EZ-fill packaging format. The customer can start filling without further process steps. The advantages are obvious: sterile delivery, a simplified filling and finishing process, the highest quality standards, flexibility through various packaging configurations and a variety of filling and sealing technologies. All this ensures improved manufacturing costs over the entire product life cycle.

Gerresheimer helps enhance quality during the production process using its own conversion and inspection technology that monitors the moulding of each individual vial. The Gx® RHOC system inspects all the quality-related dimensional factors and the Gx® G3 camera system reliably identifies cosmetic defects. Random samples are tested on an ongoing basis to see how likely they are to delaminate. The Gx® THOR control process that ensures an optimum temperature profile in the conversion process and the Gx® FLASH test procedure are two measures that Gerresheimer developed specially in-house. 

Product innovations for plastic packaging

Duma® Pocket

We continuously optimize some of our proven pharmaceutical packaging products and come up with innovative packaging solutions. Here are some examples: Our eye drop bottles are now also available with a fixed TE ring to meet the new regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This method of protecting the original contents is a reliable way of demonstrating that packaging is intact, and must be firmly attached to the bottle in accordance with the regulations. The Duma® Pocket product range is a type of pharmaceutical packaging that doesn’t look like a medical product. This is Gerresheimer’s response to patients’ need for packaging that doesn’t give away its contents at first glance. The containers look more like a packet of sweets, chewing gum, or peppermints and are now available in new 40-ml and 100-ml sizes – and of course come with a childproof closure as well as boasting an ergonomic design.

BioPack

Under the name BioPack, we have launched a broad spectrum of drugs and cosmetics packaging made of biomaterial instead of conventional polyethylene (PE) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Innovation and environmental protection go hand in hand. Gerresheimer has therefore developed a plastic bottle for a major cosmetics customer, which is made using a new bottle shape with less plastic and with a hollow in the bottom of the bottle to make stacking easy. This also saves space during transportation and leads to less CO2 emissions. The bottles are also refillable.

Cosmetics bottles with an innovative design

We place the very highest demands on our processes and the quality of our products when it comes to developing and producing cosmetic glass for perfume bottles and pots of cream. Each year, we develop around 100 new glass bottles for the cosmetics industry. Gerresheimer also produces several hundred variations of these products from glass, which in some cases involves complex finishing processes such as spraying and metalization. The company is especially focusing its investment in developing finishing technologies for the growing market in premium-quality cosmetics packaging.

Cosmetics bottles with an innovative design
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