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Three times tougher: New Chemically Strengthened Cartridges Help Pharma Companies Avoid Breakage

, Schott AG

SCHOTT has developed a chemically strengthened glass cartridge that is up to three times more resistant to breakage. The new product named SCHOTT Cartridges BR is designed specifically to offer utmost protection for very expensive or toxic drugs and for medications that need to be applied in hazardous environments where failure is just not an option. The company will offer its chemically hardened cartridges in standard sizes and in customer-specific designs. They can be used in auto-injectors, needle-free injection devices and pen and pump systems.

“There are in fact situations in which break-resistant packaging can make the difference between winning and losing. Sometimes, even between life and death when break-resistant packaging is used in areas of war and natural disaster where the conditions are harsh”, explains SCHOTT Product Manager Andrea Wesp. ”Pharmaceutical companies are also extremely interested in having break-resistant cartridges for storing drugs that are particularly expensive or highly toxic,” Wesp explains. ”Here, the highest safety precautions must be taken to protect employees on the production lines during the manufacture and packaging of these substances. The same applies during transportation of the drug and when administering it to the patient.”
To suit these types of situations, SCHOTT has now developed SCHOTT Cartridges BR (“Breakage Resistant”). Two aspects were particularly important here: “We wanted to retain the original precise geometry to make sure that the new cartridges still work with standard pen systems,” explains Wesp. Simply shaping the walls to be thicker was therefore out of question. ”Chemically hardening the glass proved to be an alternative that would not affect the integrity of the drug,” she adds. The goal was to avoid an undesirable reaction between the glass surface and the contents that could impair the drug’s effectiveness.

The answer was to further develop a glass hardening process that has been the industry standard for many years. These efforts proved to be successful at the US development lab in Pennsylvania, where SCHOTT researchers optimized a proven ion exchange process for use in pharmaceuticals. The cartridges bathe in a potassium nitrate solution during this process, whereby the sodium ions in the surface layer are exchanged for larger potassium ions from the solution. This introduces the compressive strength of the glass’ surface layer without increasing the risk of extractables and leachables (E&L). Tests have shown that the cartridges hardened in this manner are three times as resistant to mechanical stresses.

SCHOTT’s Cartridges BR are available in standard and customized sizes. They are made of high-quality FIOLAX® glass tubing which is the ideal starting material for cartridge production thanks to its high chemical stability and accurate geometrical dimensions.

, Schott AG

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