Interview with: Mahmoud Hamada, Director of Pharma Division MEA, Bosch Packaging Technology

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What are the emerging innovations in your sector? What will be the wider impact upon the MEA region?
In the pharmaceutical industry in general and the global packaging industry more specifically, we are observing trends towards small batch production and containment applications driven by rare diseases and oncology applications. At the same time, the continuous growth of the middle class and better accessibility to medicines have further pushed the need for medium to high speed platforms with a high flexibility.
For a couple of years now, the MEA region has been focusing on local production of pharmaceuticals to meet the increasing needs, on the one side for standard products including generics, and on the other hand for accessible treatment for oncology and diabetes patients. This puts the suppliers in a challenging situation since oncology and diabetes drugs are produced using cutting-edge technology and require high safety standards, while mass production of standard products calls for very robust machines that are able to run 24/7 for many years. In both cases, Bosch Packaging Technology is the right partner with a wide portfolio and over 60 years of experience.

How has your company embraced innovation?
As one of the leading suppliers of processing and packaging solutions, Bosch Packaging Technology has a long tradition with innovations and considers R&D as one of the most important factors for success and customer satisfaction, along with high product quality and reliability. We have developed a very stringent innovation process over the decades. It focuses on the imminent market needs and targets future trends, which makes us a trusted partner for our customers throughout the product lifecycle.
Regarding the trends mentioned before, Bosch Packaging Technology has developed dedicated solutions to accompany our partners in both small batch production and high-speed platforms. Some of the latest developments include the Xelum production platform and R&D unit for continuous manufacturing of oral solid dosage (OSD) forms. They offer pharmaceutical developers and manufacturers the highest flexibility combined with the ability to easily go from R&D to production without scale-up. As far as high-speed production is concerned, we recently introduced our new ampoules and vials platform, the ALF 5000 with an output of up to 600 containers per minute and 100% In-Process-Control (IPC).

How does the MEA landscape compare to that of SSA in terms of innovations?
While the MEA region is growing at a very high level and the number of greenfield projects is continuously increasing, the focus in the SSA region is on bringing production standards to the next level to comply with international standards by replacing existing machines and investing in new ones. Obviously, the requirements and the support needed by the two regions is quite different. In the MEA region, we offer our customers a very attractive one-stop-shopping approach to simplify and speed up the implementation of OSD production and sterile manufacturing, which are compliant with the highest worldwide standards. For the SSA region, in turn, our focus is on offering affordable platforms, which enable our customers to produce with high standards even under harsh conditions.
With our global network and regional approach, which includes the design and engineering of new plants, we can share the expertise of many decades to improve pharmaceutical development and production in both regions – always with the main goal in mind of improving the life standards in MEA and SSA.

Do any barriers to innovation exist? If so, how may they be overcome?
To be honest, I don’t see any “barriers to innovation”. In contrary, MEA is a region that welcomes innovation, and the industry is more open to new approaches and innovative solutions than many other regions in the world. Nevertheless, our region still needs much more direct involvement and local support. Therefore, Bosch Packaging Technology established a local office in Cairo in 2012 to provide all the required services to our customers in Middle East and Africa. This includes among others the sales team, after sales services, as well as dedicated service and validation engineers.

How can the CPhI MEA event support innovation across the MEA region?
Innovations and improvements are driven by network and by exchanging information. But above all, they are driven by the knowledge of what is really needed, and by the identification of opportunities. CPhI MEA covers all these aspects, thus offering Bosch Packaging Technology a great opportunity to meet with all relevant players in our industry, to share best practices and to plan joint projects.