The CBD industry has seemingly gone from strength to strength in recent years. The UK market alone is now reportedly worth over £300 million. And, of course, all those millions of products require millions of bottles and vials. As such, many glass manufacturers across Europe and North America have become inundated with new orders in recent years.
But what makes a quality CBD bottle? Well, Najet Mebarki, the senior product manager at SGD Pharma, should know. As one of the leading suppliers of glass pharmaceutical packaging in the world, SGD Pharma was well placed to add CBD-ready vials to its product lineup. So, following the launch of its CBD range, christened Ensiemo, Analytical Cannabis caught up with Mebarki to talk all things glassware.
Jack Rudd (JR): To kick us off, please tell us about a bit about the history of SGD Pharma.
Najet Mebarki (NM): SGD Pharma originally began in 1896, where glass bottles were hand blown primarily for the perfume industry. In 1917, our factory in Sucy-en-Brie near Paris was created to specialize in the production of pharmaceutical bottles. In 2002, we extended internationally with the introduction of our China plant. We now have over 3000 employees across the globe, including in India, China, America and France, with five ISO 15478 certified plants and ten sales offices around the world. We create over two billion glass vials per year for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical applications and have over 90 agents and distributors supporting our operations. We are proud of our journey so far in the glass packaging industry and we understand our critical role in delivering drugs to patients safely, highlighted now more than ever by the Covid-19 pandemic.
JR: What prompted your move toward the CBD industry?
NM: The global demand for CBD for medical and wellness purposes is increasing substantially, driven by its therapeutic properties and a growing consumer preference for self-medication. We noticed that with the rising demand in the CBD market, there would be a strong need for packaging designed with pharmaceutical experience in mind, so we worked on the packaging requirements for this market in order to offer our expertise. We developed a packaging solution, Ensiemo, which can also be customized to suit customer needs. Our Ensiemo packaging solution was researched and developed carefully, so that we could support the market with its growth and subsequent need for reliable packaging solutions.
On November 19, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the ban on the marketing of CBD was illegal, stressing that the molecule present in hemp has “no psychotropic effect or harmful effect on human health.” This was a huge step in the European market for CBD and increases the demand for such products, which Ensiemo can provide the compliant packaging for.
JR: What are the benefits of Ensiemo over existing packaging solutions?
NM: Ensiemo is a full packaging solution that combines a dropper bottle with a CRC (child resistant closure) and tamper evident pipette assembly, ensuring patient safety and product integrity. It also offers related services, including a regulatory package – this is a huge benefit considering the continually changing CBD regulations across the globe. This package provides CBD producers with peace of mind that their packaging for new CBD oils complies with the necessary regulations, globally, from a supplier with more than 100 years’ experience in managing compliant packaging for the pharma industry.
Ensiemo is available in 5ml to 100ml bottles in clear or amber glass, with two teat types on offer. Produced in a pharmaceutical-grade environment, Ensiemo complies with good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards (ISO 15378), as well as with all US and European Pharmacopoeia guidelines and leakage and elemental impurity tests. There is also the option for tamper evident seal (without CRC), or graduation for a precise dosing, respectively. Amber glass has the benefit of providing unrivalled barrier properties to prevent CBD molecule degradation.
We provide a single source for improved supply chain efficiency and flexibility, while assimilating the responsibility of quality control and regulatory compliance, as well as the expertise to navigate the global challenges of compliance. To support the market, we have a white paper about global regulations available.
JR: How have you and your team found the CBD industry so far? What are the most interesting things you have learnt, and have you enjoyed it?
NM: There are many similarities with the markets in which our core business operates, but the customer typology in the CBD industry is different. There is a plethora of players in the CBD market, ranging from small start-ups to bigger laboratories, and depending on the customer profile, their needs, requirements, and challenges vary. This range of customers means that flexibility and reactivity for us has been key. It is obviously fascinating to be able to deal with companies who are developing new products at such a quick rate, and to enable them to adopt a global strategy, despite the fact that so many logistical and regulatory challenges apply to this market.
There are a large number of pharmaceutical, healthcare, food and FMCG brands all converging in this market, which provides a unique mash-up of products. We have really enjoyed stepping into the packaging side of the industry, supporting its growth to enable safe use for CBD products. It’s exciting to play a part in the growth and we are continually learning about CBD and what it can offer. The biggest challenge for all is compliance and the fast pace of change, and we have adopted the approach that this requires SGD Pharma to remain true to its core values and bring its years of experience to bear.
Jack Rudd was speaking to Najet Mebarki, senior product manager at SGD Pharma.