Brecon Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of AmerisourceBergen, is based in the Wye Valley Business Park near Hay-on-Wye in Hereford, UK. In late 2003 the company received planning permission to more than double the size of the operation by expanding the manufacturing, packaging and warehousing facilities. The expansion was prompted by a growth in the demand for the company’s clinical trial supply and commercial packaging services. It required an additional 115 employees on top of the 235 already employed.
Construction of the new 45,000m² expansion was started in August 2004 and was completed in early 2006. The official opening occurred towards the middle of 2006, following the ‘kitting out’ of the plant with new packaging equipment. The expansion has meant additional employment in a rural area badly in need of a job boost.
Brecon Pharmaceuticals was first set up in 1979 and now provides packaging, storage and distribution services to over 70 major pharmaceutical companies.
The investment for the new expansion and equipment was believed to be in excess of £10.5m. The company had already launched a new Analytical Services Unit in early 2004 with a brand new purpose-built analytical and quality control/assurance laboratory.
In March 2011, Brecon Pharmaceuticals joined with AmerisourceBergen’s another subsidiary, Anderson Packaging, to provide clinical trial customers with high-quality clinical trial services. The joint effort has enabled the sister companies to serve customers with a global packaging, storage and distribution service.
The construction for the expansion was awarded to Frank Gallier Builders of Shrewsbury. The new buildings were constructed in a traditional style, including over 150t of architectural steel, in keeping with a rural setting. The construction included specially commissioned slates for the roof, obtained from a Welsh quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Up to mid-2006 Brecon installed two new bottling lines and two new blister packing lines into four new production cubicles significantly increasing production capability. The company also relocated its cold storage and -75ºC freezer into the production area to further increase efficiency of the packaging operation. The vacated space was converted into an engineering maintenance workshop for in-house engineers.
A high-speed bottling line, the Swiftpack SV2-12-EFS, was installed in a purpose-built cubicle in the new production facility, under class 8 (ISO 14644-1) cleanroom conditions. The SV2 handles a wider range of bottle and cap designs, including screw on and push on, and was integrated into the company’s automatic line to provide capper, check-weigher, labeller, cartoner and bandwrapper functions.
The cartoner and labeller systems are equipped with Pharmacode verification systems. The SV2 also uses an electrostatic counting system rather than a traditional visual system. The new system increases product sensitivity and enables it to detect and reject any broken tablets or non-conforming products. The new high-speed line can handle up to 55 bottles per minute.
PGM Consulting, Pago and Brecon Pharmaceuticals cooperated to launch the first Late Stage Customisation (LSC) facility for packaged products in the UK. The new LSC facility enables pharmaceutical customers to continue to produce bulk volumes of standard, generic and primary packs. The packs are then fully customised by packaging providers such as Brecon Pharmaceuticals, using digitally printed clear-label technology, which enables the late addition of customer-specific language, booklets and leaflets.
The system also enables packs to carry sequential code numbers, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and 2D datamatrix barcodes for added security against counterfeiting and full traceability throughout the supply chain. The LSC service uses print and late-stage application technology from Pago of Colchester, UK, which also supplies Brecon Pharma with LSC consumables.
Brecon installed the LSC equipment in its new production facility in early 2006. The new equipment for LSC was the Pagomat 15/120E Print and Apply labelling machine packaging system. This enabled Brecon to offer a wide choice of packaging options for all solid dose forms, whatever the size of the batch, and provide a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution for customers.
The Pagomat labelling machine was installed on a stainless steel stand and vertical support pillar. On this two vertical support bars are mounted, which bear the carriage blocks for the Pagomat and the label application assembly. The labels are dispensed over a fan box assembly, with the leading edge of the label on a label press-down roller.
The leaflet to be attached is manually placed into a guide chute, enabling accurate placement on the adhesive side of the label. The carton is manually located between guides and pulled onto the wipe-down roller. This attaches the label to the leading face of the carton and wipes it down the top face as far as the leaflet. The remainder of the label is then finally wiped down and around the end of the carton by hand.
Child-resistant blister pack
Brecon Pharmaceuticals has integrated the latest ‘Pill protect’ child-resistant senior-friendly (CRSF) technology onto its first Noack 623 blister pack line. The Pill protect range includes a number of products meeting BS8404; the products include a push-through barrier for common products and a peel-and-push package for more delicate items. The layer is applied directly onto the backing foil of each pack during the blister packaging process.
The system runs through a purpose-built reel holding unit and labelling head, which was specifically customised for the Noack machine at Brecon Pharmaceutical and was installed by Romaco UK. A reel of labels supplies the head and single labels are applied in the correct orientation onto the already formed and sealed blister pack. Both are then die cut into shape to produce a clean one-piece finish.
The system has been designed to operate at 50 cycles per minute and five packs per cycle, with a maximum production of 250 blister packs per minute. Brecon Pharmaceutical is one of the first companies in the UK to introduce this technology.
In June 2008 Burgopak joined forces with Brecon Pharmaceuticals to improve the production of a new concept pharmaceutical packaging. Brecon installed a new machine from Bosch Sigpack to produce a minimum of 20 million units annually of the new concept package. At the start of the collaboration the new machine was used to assemble PocketPaks, including the new sliding design single and double-sided blister packs of ibuprofen and paracetamol for several retail lines.
The new Burgopak packaging employs a patented operating system that presents the product in a sliding tray. The sliding tray idea may be used by Burgopak for packaging other items such as SIM cards, credit cards, cosmetics and CD and DVD packaging.
In 2011, Burgopak slider pack was chosen by over-the-counter healthcare manufacturer Lanes Health for the packaging of its Kalms Tablets, a traditional herbal stress remedy. Packaging commenced in July 2011 at Brecon’s Hay-on-Wye facility.