Differentiation and establishment of brand recognition are as important for drug products as they are for consumer goods. When it comes to oral solid dosage forms, two-piece hard capsules provide drug makers with many opportunities to create a unique and recognizable product that encourages brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

Introduction

In today’s marketplace, having a unique product with a distinct and easily distinguishable appearance is extremely important. Products that are easily recognizable help secure brand loyalty and recognition. When a new product is launched, it must stand out from other products to not only attract consumers but also convince them to purchase the product and remain dedicated to the brand going forward. 

In the pharmaceutical industry, whenever possible, new drug products are formulated as oral solid dosage (OSD) drugs due to their ease and convenience for patients and the cost of production for drug makers. It should not be surprising that the global market for OSD pharmaceuticals is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% from $493.2 billion in 2017 to $926.3 billion by the end of 2027.1 

Of the various OSD forms, two-piece capsules have several advantages over other formats with respect to their customization options that allow the creation of unique appearances and properties that are attractive to consumers and enhance branding..

A Little about Two-Piece Hard Capsules

Two-piece gelatin and HPMC hard capsules consist of a capsule body, capsule cap and in some instances a band or seal. The filling process is relatively simple and consists of three basic steps: filling of the capsule body, placement of the cap on the body and if desired sealing or banding. In addition, fewer excipients are generally required for formulations administered in hard capsules, and raw material costs tend to be lower. As such, the use of hard capsules simplifies the development and manufacturing of OSD products.

The simplified nature of the hard capsule filling process also facilitates process transfer and scale-up. Equipment is currently available that allows liquid-filling of hard-shell capsules from the bench to commercial scales. Unlike soft-gel manufacturing, which requires specialized expertise and more extensive equipment, the filling of hard-shell capsules is relatively easy and cost-effective to implement, enabling drug makers to perform in-house feasibility batches with minimal investment. 

Hard capsules can be filled with powders, granules, pellets, tablets, mini-tablets, semi-solids, and liquids, including powders that have been wetted and dispersed in a fluid. The hard shell protects sensitive APIs from exposure to light and air. They are also suitable for highly potent drug formulations. Two-piece hard capsules are also highly flexible in terms of dosage concentration, capsule composition and delivery method.

Hard Capsule Brand Differentiation with Color

Color is a great way to distinguish new products being brought to market. Consumers associate product with brands, which helps create brand loyalty. In some cases, consumers may buy a product once, like it, and want to get more of the same brand, but don’t pay attention to the name. They do often remember the colors, however, which can help them find the product on the shelves and convert them to a repeat buyer.

Color can be incorporated into two-piece hard capsules in a number of ways. The cap and body of a capsule can each be a different color, and the band for banded capsules can be a third. The more colors that are used in a capsule, the more difficult it is for counterfeit/knock-off products to be made.

CapsCanada can formulate capsules to match any desired Pantone color and thus any colors used in an advertising campaign, allowing the capsules themselves to tie in with the marketing strategy. For manufacturers offering all-natural products, CapsCanada also has a line of natural dyes for capsule coloring.

Hard Capsule Brand Differentiation with Printing

Printing a logo and/or other text specific to each product or brand is another way to ensure hard capsule products are differentiated from the competition. On hard capsules, logos, for instance, can be printed in contrasting colors to the capsule color. Each time consumers dispense the recommended dose and handles a capsule(s), they are reminded of the brand. This repetitive exposure instills in their memory the logo of that brand.

CapsCanada can print on just the cap, the body or on both of the hard-capsule components. The printing can be radial (along the length of the capsule) or axial (spun around the capsule) – and both techniques can be used within one hard-capsule product. Two colors can be used, so the logo/text can be different colors on the cap and body. In fact, printing options with hard-shell capsules are nearly endless, with very fine and intricate detail possible if desired. For instance, for pediatric patients, popular cartoon characters can be printed onto hard capsules. Again, inks based on natural ingredients are available for products that are formulated as all-natural.

Hard Capsule Brand Differentiation with Flavor

Flavored capsules are yet another option for creating distinct products that are readily distinguishable from the competition. Consumers that have their senses stimulated by taste, sight or smell are more prone to remember those products and become repeat consumers. Flavored capsules, in particular, create highly memorable experiences for consumers that often lead to repeat purchases.

Flavoring capsules can serve very practical purposes. For APIs that have a bitter taste, capsule flavorings act as taste-masking agents, which mask undesirable tastes and odors in formulations and thereby promote patient compliance and consumer preference. For formulations that have a distinct odor, flavoring the capsules can also mask the smell when the bottle is opened. Specific flavors can also be used to match the nature of the active ingredient encapsulated in the hard-shell capsule, such as an orange flavor for vitamin C capsules.

CapsCanada offers a unique flavoring service for gelatin capsules that enables product manufacturers to set their products apart from the competition. Both pre-formulated and customizable flavors are available, including fruit (lime, berry, strawberry, grape, orange), bubblegum, mint and coffee. A line of pet-friendly capsules with animal-friendly flavors, such as chicken, are also available for veterinary products offered in hard-shell capsules.

Hard Capsule Brand Differentiation with Banding

CapsCanada provides customized banding solutions rather than forced sealing methods using solvent-based chemical sprays. Bands are composed of the same polymers used to produce the capsules, ensuring complete unibody fusion. Banding is advantageous because, unlike with sealing, it is not possible to compromise the integrity of the shell during the banding process.

Hard capsules that are banded offer a third color option and are therefore more difficult to copy. They also cannot be reclosed once physically opened. As such, they are resistant to both counterfeiting and tampering. Banded hard capsules can also be effective solutions for drugs that require abuse deterrence attributes. Furthermore, unique solutions, such as insertion of smaller hard capsules inside larger hard capsules, enable the preparation of combination products, as well as those with variable release profiles and targeted drug delivery capabilities.

Hard Capsule Brand Differentiation through Customization

With hard-shell capsules, drug makers can design safer OSD products while providing themselves with the opportunity to create unique products that drive brand awareness and loyalty. Customized banding, the variety of capsule sizes, and the numerous choices for capsule and band colors, finishes and printing combinations allow drug manufacturers to differentiate their products while providing assurance of quality. CapsCanada is also in the process of developing additional specialized banding options that can impart further unique and differentiating properties that will provide more opportunities for brand marketers. 

References 

  1. Future Market Insights, “Oral Solid Dosage Pharmaceutical Formulation Market: Emerging Markets of Latin America, APEJ and MEA to Collectively Hold over 45% Market Value Share: Global Industry Analysis 2012 - 2016 and Opportunity Assessment 2017 – 2027,” July 18, 2017. https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/oral-solid-dosage-pharmaceutical-formulation-market.