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The challenges of innovating in packaging and drug delivery

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In this interview with Pharmapack, Arnaud Steiner, R&D Packaging Manager at Virbac shares his thoughts on trending issues in the packaging market such as patient centricity and eco-design, the challenges of managing the development of new packaging and delivery solutions and his motivation for joining the Pharmapack Awards jury board for 2021

Please tell us a little about Virbac and your role on what are you responsible for when it comes to packaging or drug delivery devices?

Virbac is a French pharmaceutical company dedicated to animal health, ranked 6th in the world. Founded more than 50 years ago and present in more than 100 countries, Virbac has a wide range (more than 8,600 references) of health products and in-clinic diagnostic kits to prevent and treat the majority of pathologies, all while improving the quality of life of animals. My role is to manage the research and the development of primary packaging and drug delivery devices for global projects, from idea to launch. It is also to lead packaging innovation and its technological watch.

What do you think about the patient-centric approach and eco-design approach for animal health and veterinary packaging?

This patient-centric approach is thought slightly differently for animal health compared to human health. Indeed, our patient is an animal from a specific species, with all the complexities we can imagine: Virbac treats more than 50 animal species, so a patient-centric approach can mean more than 50 different approaches for us! But at the end of the day, even if all these species are different regarding their various characteristics and metabolisms, the end philosophy remains the same: to improve the health of the animal, our patient.

It is also important to note a particularity of our activity: our approach must also take into account our users (veterinarians or breeders, but also pet owners). Their safety and satisfaction should guide us in our packaging choices.

The eco-design approach, for its part, has become essential and systematic. It must be reflected at each stage of development, in order to end up with a perfectly eco-designed solution. Because it can be obtained by a multitude of possible ways, some of which are cumulative most of the time.

How does your team manage new packaging or delivery solution development? What are the challenges? Any lessons learned?

New packaging, or delivery solution, requires for my team to develop solutions adapted to these many animal species. Because it is certain that the packaging or the delivery systems will not be the same if we are dealing with companion animals, food producing animals, or even more exotic animals like those in zoos! And if the many Virbac products can treat animals as different as shrimps or elephants, they can and must also treat variations within the same species, because here again the packaging for a dog medicine, for example, must be suitable for a 2kg dog but also for a 80kg dog ... The main challenges for our developments are therefore linked to the multiple variations: of species, of diseases and therefore of products, of administration methods, and of type of users. The lessons are therefore just as numerous...

You have joined the jury board of Pharmapack Awards from 2021; what are your motivations for doing so?

The main one is innovation! Pharmapack is recognized as a leader in its field, so it is an honor to be part of this jury, and it is both very exciting and motivating to be at the heart of packaging innovations in our sector of activity, which show every year the wealth of ideas demonstrated by all these companies. It is an important role, also allowing me to highlight the market trends, and to be able to reward the best among the best.

What are the most important criteria you look at when evaluating an innovation?

These are the ones I apply for Virbac developments: of course the basics linked to the quality and delivery of the product, but also ergonomics, safety, usability , adaptation to field conditions, and of course sustainable development.

What will be your Top 3 main challenges for 2021? Are there any particular areas you wish to see more innovative solutions in?

I would say that the sustainable environment and new technologies (3D printing, connected objects, ...) are the current challenges for packaging. But the third that I will have to meet in 2021 will be to have to choose the best innovations for the awards, which I have no doubt will be numerous even in this troubled health period.

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