COVID-19 Impact on Pharmaceutical Packaging in Chemicals and Materials Industry

COVID-19 Impact on Aseptic Processing in Healthcare Industry

  • Healthcare
  • Mar 01, 2021

COVID-19 Impact on Aseptic Processing in Healthcare Industry

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a novel disease that originated in China, Wuhan, and then spread worldwide, due to which the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic. The novel strain of coronavirus belongs to the same virus family that causes acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and middle-east respiratory syndrome.

Due to the rapid growth of the virus, lockdown and quarantine were the government initiatives to control the coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a humanitarian crisis, creating an extraordinary strain on society and affecting millions of people around the world. The speed and depth of disruption are creating unprecedented challenges for industries and are having a growing impact on the global economy. Beyond the negative impact of a traditional economic downturn due to factory closures, supply chain disruptions, movement restrictions, and social distancing requirements, the pandemic has put the medical industry at the center stage. In the current scenario, the healthcare industry is witnessing an unparalleled demand for diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical ventilators, and other critical medical supplies. With the potentially high risk of infection, healthcare professionals (HCPs) are also facing significant challenges in providing specific and effective care (often remotely). Hospital systems are becoming overwhelmed with the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients, which is weighing heavily on the pharmaceutical industry. While research efforts to find effective drugs against the novel coronavirus are picking up pace, it is imperative to tackle another big challenge – ensuring the safety and security of drugs and medical supplies until they reach the hands of those who need them the most.

Many pharmaceutical companies remain focused on the immediate crisis – facilitating increased access to critical medicines and supporting HCPs, intensive care units (ICUs), clinics, hospitals and patients in new ways. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to the healthcare system. While pharmaceutical companies recognise and are responding to immediate needs, pharmaceutical packaging companies are experiencing a new set of challenges.

Prior to the pandemic, continued growth of the e-commerce industry in developing economies increased interest in sustainable materials and the integration of advanced technology were driving the growth of the pharmaceutical packaging industry. However, it needs to be ready for potential effects triggered by the COVID-19 crisis. On the other hand, growing anxiety about the transmission of COVID-19 through packaging surfaces is offering opportunities to capitalise on sterile formats.

Aseptic processing is a processing technique wherein commercially, thermally sterilized liquid products like food or the pharmaceuticals are packaged into prior sterilized containers under aseptic conditions. This is done in order to produce shelf-stable products that would not require refrigeration. The processing majorly involves three steps: thermal sterilization of the product, sterilization of the packaging material, and conservation of sterility during packaging. Aseptic Processing Systems is a set of devices to maintain the sterility of the food products or the pharmaceutical items. They are packed within a sterile container that helps in maintaining its sterility efficiently.


Owing to the global pandemic of COVID-19 the demand for the aseptic processing market has increased exponentially in the present scenario. Although we may not realize it, every single person in the world could be affected by the use of sterile products. This may include the use of needles to inject vaccines, administering lifesaving prescription drugs such as Insulin or Epinephrine or in a hopefully rare, but very real situation for 2020, the insertion of a ventilator tube to enable a patient suffering from COVID-19 to breathe. The rise in demand for eco-friendly packages is one of the prominent factors driving the growth of the global aseptic processing market. This is owing to the rising awareness regarding the environment and stringent regulations about the same. Also, manufacturers are keen on integrating aseptic processing with filling operations. This has facilitated the proliferation in the pharmaceutical industry for packaging numerous liquid drugs in sterilized containers. Consequently, there is an expansion in the reach of the global aseptic processing market.

  • The introduction of blow-fill-seal technology in aseptic processing has highly reduced the risk of microbial contamination. This technology is extensively used in liquid pharmaceutical applications and is gradually proliferating into biologics. The use of this technology simplifies the manufacturing process as it is highly automated. Moreover, the use of this technology in filling polymeric containers reduces the concerns of breakage or glass-particulate contamination. This development of this technology has increased the industry penetration of the global aseptic processing market, thus supporting its growth and this could increase the demand for the market.


The expansion in the food and beverages industry has led to a significant increase in the market’s growth. Aseptic processing is used in packaging dairy products, coconut water, and carbonated drinks among others. Along with this, the development of new aseptic processing technologies offering better results has expedited the aseptic processing market’s growth. Launching of new products and various acquisitions are expected to drive the aseptic processing market and is intended to impact the supply of the market positively.

For instance:

  • Robotic integration is currently gaining ground in the primary packaging processes for RTU containers, such as syringes, vials, and cartridges. Robotic solutions supply pharmaceutical manufacturers with a faster, more cost-effective, and flexible method of filling different container formats via the same filling platform, responding to the growing demand for customized packaging, small batches, quick format, and product changeovers together with less user intervention during the filling process.

Conventional systems do not adhere to the requirement for multiple formats, small-batch flexibility, or sizes and repeatable processes that decrease risk. Advances in technology have made robotics compatible with aseptic manufacturing, with complete tolerance to sterilizing agents and almost no particle generation. Robots provide flexibility, which is an advantage over traditional aseptic machinery.

  • The GENiSYS R from AST is a modular system that automates aseptic filling and the closing of vials, syringes, and cartridges. Formulated for small batch filling, the system uses robotics from Stäubli, a mechatronics solutions provider, to attain complete in-process control for applications involving drug manufacturing, compounding, cell and gene therapy development, personalized medicine, and cytotoxic drug processing.
  • Bosch has launched a new aseptic linear filling and sealing machine called FCL 3080 A. This machine offers enhanced efficiency and is used for packaging baby food and dairy. It reduces the risk of food contamination because of the presence of a small aseptic chamber that facilitates improved product control. Additionally, it can handle two different cup formats, thus enhancing the flexibility. This machine has served as a major breakthrough in the global aseptic processing market, thereby strengthening its growth. 
  • Pran has started aseptically processing tomato pulp at its Barind Industrial Park in Rajshahi to attain a longer shelf life for enabling its export alongside grabbing a bigger share of processed tomato sales in the country. Pran, one of the country's leading food processors, has already been exporting tomato sauce and ketchup to 60 countries, including Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, U.S., Italy and Sweden.
  • Cytiva has acquired Vanrx Pharmasystems, a Canadian maker of robotic aseptic filling machines to fill vials, syringes, and cartridges with reduced risk and increased speed. Vanrx's flagship products are the SA25 Aseptic Filling Workcell and Microcell Vial Filler, which automate aseptic filling using robotics within closed, gloveless isolators. These standardized, flexible systems provide a fast and certain path to filling capacity as the final step in manufacturing clinical and commercial biopharmaceuticals.


Aseptic processing is the method of packaging food products in sterile containers to maintain their quality. The global aseptic processing market is estimated to grow exponentially owing to the rising demand for efficient packaging of food products. Moreover, the rapidly expanding packaging industry, new technological advancements, and the proliferation in the pharmaceuticals sector are also expected to contribute to the market’s growth.