Safety and Quality for the Final ConsumerWed, 09/05/2018 - 09:52
Among medication’s most important factors are its efficacy and safety, but the way it is packaged and delivered also plays a key role, says Enrique Garza, CEO of Capsugama, a Mexican supplier in the pharmaceutical and food supplements segments. “The Mexican market mainly imports hard gelatin capsules, which the pharmaceutical sector most requires,” says Garza, adding that the segment has substantial room for growth.
Depending on its formulation, intended use, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and many other factors, oral medication can be packaged as tablets, soft capsules or hard capsules, the latter being the most widely used in Mexico and the world. Hard gelatin may contain powdered medicines, granular, semi-solid and nonaqueous liquid medicines and their main feature is that they have the advantage of tasting better than tablets.
In addition, they allow the packaging of semi-solids and pellets. According to Markets and Markets, the hard gelatin capsule market will be worth US$2.31 billion by 2021. “The Mexican pharmaceutical market requires 10 billion capsules per year, of which we currently have roughly 10 percent,” says Garza.
Garza explains that capsule manufacturing is often underestimated. However, the manufacturing process is complicated since it must ensure that millions of capsules have exactly the same thickness. Manufacturers have also developed integral measures to guarantee asepsis and avoid any type of contaminant. Capsules must also be delivered and stored in temperature-controlled storage units to ensure their physical integrity at all times.
Capsugama works with both the pharmaceutical industry and the food supplements industry. The first is much harder to access, says Garza, but the support of ACG, its provider, allowed Capsugama to enter the market. ACG, one of the largest companies in the world for the manufacture of hard, empty gelatin capsules and for which Capsugama is the exclusive representative in Mexico, produces 83 billion capsules a year for 80 countries. With almost 20 years of experience, Capsugama is now a trusted supplier in the sector, says Garza.
To ensure integrity, quality and safety, all Capsugama’s products are delivered with a certificate of analysis signed by the manufacturer. Furthermore, COFEPRIS carefully regulates all products for the packaging of medications. “COFEPRIS has done an excellent job in ensuring that quality products can access the Mexican market and when a product meets COFEPRIS’ requirements, the council allows its expeditious entry into Mexico,” says Garza.
Capsugama’s expertise in the market is leading the company to expand its product portfolio to introduce ACG’s natural capsules made of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC). These inert, odorless and tasteless capsules have the same bio-availability of regular hard gelatin capsules and are low in moisture. The capsules are also halal and kosher certified.
In the long-term, Capsugama wants to introduce new products, including delayed-release capsules. Delayed HPMC capsules can protect medicines against stomach acids without the need for protective chemicals or other types of coatings. These capsules can also delay or control the release of the medications until after they pass the stomach to avoid their inactivation by gastric juices and can also be used for drugs that irritate the gastric mucosa.
Capsugama also sells equipment for packaging medication into capsules imported from China and Chile, including pill counters, labelers, automatic and manual encapsulators, weight scales and pressors. Moreover, the company plans to continue developing its relationship with ACG to introduce more products into the country.
Garza says Capsugama expects to continue growing in the pharmaceutical market in 2018, both for the sale of capsules and machinery. While capsules may not be everyone’s priority when thinking of medications, they are a large market with significant opportunities to grow and innovate, he says.