Uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have imposed new supply chain and regulatory hurdles for medical device manufacturers and further complicate the process of navigating the strict requirements applied to packaging materials for medical devices. While the market for medical device packaging is projected to grow to just shy of $44 billion by 2026, growth may be restrained by health and safety regulations governing sterilization and a plethora of other compliance issues. In this environment, attention to scalable, innovative, and unconventional production methods could be a key driver for sustained market growth.
Amy Stewart, chairperson of the IoPP Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC), will explore the current state of packaging sterility and safety, including regulations in place to avoid healthcare-associated infection and the gravity of packaging integrity to patient safety, in her keynote presentation at Virtual Engineering Week, an all-new digital event taking place November 30 – December 4, 2020. Organized by Informa Markets – Engineering, producer of Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) events and publisher of MD+DI, the five-day event is designed to connect suppliers with buyers and purchase influencers in the medtech, automation, design, packaging, materials, plastics and sustainability, and product development sectors. It offers world-class education for the close-knit manufacturing community through a comprehensive conference and networking at a time when in-person connection is not feasible.
Stewart answered a few questions for MD+DI, offering a preview into what attendees can expect from her keynote address scheduled for Wednesday, December 2 at 8:15am PST. For anyone interested in tuning in to the event, registration is open at engineering.im.informa.com/2020.
As chairperson of the IoPP Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC), you will present the keynote at Virtual Engineering Week, "Leading the Change.” What does that mean?
Stewart: We're an industry with a broad range of technical expertise with one common mission – patient safety. We all have our roles in the supplier value chain to serve the patient through medical device packaging sterility assurance. In the last eight months of COVID-19 support, there have been many activities leveraging the experience of medical device packaging professionals, including educators and media partners in our MDPTC membership. There's no time better time to answer the call-to-action, lean into the conversation, and provide technical leadership.
Where are the opportunities in the medical device packaging industry?
Stewart: In my keynote presentation, I share a few highlights from the last 12-18 months where we’ve seen trends and insights from less conventional sterilization methods to new medical device packaging innovation groups. These topics illustrate what’s happening in the industry that may resonate and inspire someone to seek his/her opportunity. Many speakers during Virtual Engineering Week are presenting on facets of medical device and medical device packaging including regulatory changes making a global impact to literally the “global” concern of healthcare waste.
If you’re a new packaging professional in this field, how do you break into this industry and be a contributor on game-changing advancements in medical device packaging?
Stewart: Whether this was 2019 (pre-pandemic) or 2020, a good start is to join Institute of Packaging Professionals and the Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee. Membership offers immediate access to programs and other like-minded professionals who are driven to see medical device packaging...be better, the timeless goal. Also, in my presentation, I share the relationships between IoPP MDPTC and other industry organizations such as Stetilization Packaging Manufacturers Council (SPMC), a council of the FPA; and AAMI and ASTM, who collectively are passionate about advancing medical device packaging technical guidance.
Hasn’t this industry had those leading the change already? Will we hear about new faces leading the change?
Stewart: Yes, and yes. Thankfully, we have had and continue to have strong technical leaders who have built the technical foundational knowledge of medical device packaging. In addition to some leaders’ highlights, lifetime industry contributor John Spitzley was announced at Healthpack 2020 for the MDPTC Honor Award. A key objective in IoPP MDPTC is to be a valuable resource to new medical device packaging professional members from industry education, networking, and professional development.