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Supply Spotlight: Capsugel

CapsugelThe world's largest capsule manufacturer began as a part of Parke-Davis 133 years ago. Today, as a division of global pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Capsugel supports customers on every major continent.

The company currently has 11 manufacturing facilities located throughout the world, offering clients some distinct advantages, says Missy Lowery, Capsugel's marketing manager for the Americas region.

"For example, we understand the regulatory environment from country to country, so we can advise our customers on the regulations they might confront. Because we source capsules from any of our 10 locations and because these capsules are standard, made from tooling and machinery developed from one source in South Carolina, we also offer an uninterrupted supply of capsules — extremely important to customers who sell globally.?

Brad Larson, manager of marketing and business development for the Americas region, adds, "We have the largest number of manufacturing plants servicing the global marketplace. We have a well-positioned field technical-service force. We have dedicated customer service and sales in every part of the world meeting individual customer's needs.

"Our objective is to help our customers grow,? he says. "Customers don't just buy capsules in a box from us — they look to partner for innovative products and solutions.?

Some of these recent innovations include lifestyle-driven items such as OceanCaps. Available since 2007, these are made using only farmed fish species, and according to Lowery, are especially suitable for enhancing marine-based products such as fish oil, shark cartilage or algae. They appeal to vegetarians who consume fish, and health-conscious spa clientele who prefer water-based therapies, Lowery says.

Capsugel's plant-based HPMC capsules, Vcaps and Vcaps Plus, address the booming vegetarian-aware market, which includes the 70 million people who spent $2.8 billion on vegetarian food and beverage products in the United States in 2006, Lowery says. The Vcaps Plus capsule is made through a unique patented manufacturing process that yields a product with a similar profile to gelatin. It has a shiny, glossy surface and is available in a wide variety of colors and the full array of standard capsule sizes.

Capsugel's liquid formulation center in Greenwood, SCFinding success in the sports-nutrition markets, and others that require large liquid dosages, Capsugel's Licaps capsules "have become a mainstream product because the liquid content is visible and the formulations achieve the bioavailability our customers want,? Lowery says. The capsule is particularly effective for ingredients that may have oxidation issues, such as resveratrol; evening-primrose oil; and omega-3s, 6s and 9s. Increased demand has caused Capsugel to triple Licaps' manufacturing capabilities in the South Carolina, manufacturing facility in 2007, and open a new manufacturing facility in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Another 2007 innovation was Pearlized Licaps capsules, which combine proprietary liquid-supplement delivery with a pearl-effect capsule. The inherent beauty of the capsule, available in a variety of colours, enables clients to differentiate their product in the marketplace.

In the new world of GMPs, Capsugel is well situated, Lowery says. "We have a rigorous supplier-qualification programme that requires validation of the highest quality standards, and compliance with all BSE global regulations. This is increasingly important today, especially as it relates to gelatin. Many suppliers offer gelatins, but not all are able to certify that their raw materials meet global regulatory standards and are truly traceable.?

Although there is some concern in the supplements marketplace about expensive demands the new GMPs will place on smaller contract manufacturers, Larson doesn't believe it will drive them out of business. However, he does acknowledge that Capsugel could benefit indirectly through its self-adopted role as educator about the new GMPs through its seminars and its expansion of the Capsugel University Program, offered at no charge to customers.

"We are working very hard to assist our customers into understanding what the new GMPs mean to them, the implications for their businesses, what they need to do to be compliant and by when,? Lowery adds.

"We have an experienced technical-service organization that spends its time in the field working 'hands on' with customers to improve productivity and building a better understanding and compliance with the new GMPs. We are investing in our customers' success under these new guidelines.?

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