Highly innovative plastic
To counteract this problem, SCHOTT has recently introduced an alternative to conventional glass syringes: prefillable syringes made of “Topas,” an innovative special plastic. The company invested five to six years into the development of this product, which incorporates SCHOTT’s concentrated know-how. Sold under the name “SCHOTT TopPac,” these syringes have been available on the market since mid-2002. They are produced by SCHOTT Polymer GmbH in St. Gallen, which was founded specifically for this purpose with a start-up capacity of 20 million pieces per year. Located in Eastern Switzerland, this SCHOTT affiliate is the only company in the world that manufactures syringes from this high-tech material.
There are additional advantages for the pharmaceutical companies that have to fill the syringes with their products. Contrary to standard primary packaging, “SCHOTT TopPac” syringes are clean and sterile when they are delivered: they are fabricated in a clean room using injection molding technology, packed, radiation-sterilized and then delivered ready for filling directly to the customer’s clean room. This saves pharmaceutical manufacturers several processing steps – and thus plant, maintenance and personnel costs. “The pharmaceutical company can have a small filling unit and still work cost effectively,” stresses Ralf Holschumacher. For instance, vendor inspection and broken syringes in the filling unit or in the clean room are now things of the past.
A practical addition to the product range
The list of medicines that are suitable for “SCHOTT TopPac” syringes is long. Anticoagulants and vaccines are two examples, as are solutions, products with extreme pH values and proteins. Of course, the new plastic material will not completely replace the well-established “SCHOTT Fiolax” syringes made of glass. But they are definitely a practical addition to the existing product range, emphasizes Ralf Holschumacher. This is also demonstrated by the close proximity of SCHOTT Polymer to the 50-percent SCHOTT affiliate forma vitrum, which produces “forma2s/3s” glass syringes. Customers can thus obtain glass and plastic syringes from a single supplier. “Our objective is to achieve growth in both product areas.”