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Low Impact Trials

 

Clinical trials can have a considerable impact on the environment, particularly when it comes to packaging and transportation. With medical companies increasingly keen to improve their green credentials, many are now looking for ways to increase the efficiency and sustainability of their operations. The benefits of this approach extend beyond corporate social responsibility, potentially reducing the cost of conducting trials internationally.

A good place to start when attempting to reduce the environmental impact of clinical trials is to evaluate the packaging system being used. Developing effective packaging for trial drugs, particularly temperature-sensitive products, is more challenging than ever, with items shipped over increasingly long distances and time-scales, and new legislation being introduced constantly.

Before you can set about trying to make your packaging more environmentally friendly, you need to ensure it fulfils its main function: to protect its contents in storage and distribution, and ensure that they can be delivered to the location of the trial in good condition. This is no easy task, as packaging is commonly subjected to extreme temperatures and hazards such as vibration, moisture, heat, and light penetration. The packaging must be robust and secure, but also compact and lightweight to keep shipping costs down, making the development processes extremely complex.

To achieve a solution that meets all of these criteria, and has minimal effect on the environment, requires the right design and, importantly, the right materials. In the retail and food industries, eco-packaging has become big business. Innovative packaging materials are continually being introduced, produced from sustainable resources, such as crops, or materials that compost or biodegrade easily in a short time period. Some of these latest technologies are now finding their way into other sectors, but it is vital that both the properties of the alternative materials and the specific requirements of the application they are to be used for are properly understood before deciding on a solution.


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Geraint Thomas graduated from Brunel University in 1996 with a BSc, First Class Honours in Industrial Product Design. After working as a Board Game Engineer for Hasbro toys, he joined Laminar Medica in 1998 as a Packaging Development Technologist with responsibility for packaging solutions and qualification packages for insulated shipper design. Now employed as Technical Director, Geraint has been instrumental in realising Laminar Medica’s development programme, including the expansion of the company’s qualification laboratory and R&D facility.
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