Somersworth firm sees dry room as a boon for business

J-Pac Medical adds absorbable polymers to capabilities
The dry room at J-Pac Medical in Somersworth.

Somersworth-based J-Pac Medical has installed dry room processing capabilities that the company says will expand the medical manufacturer and packaging outsourcer’s customer market.

A contract manufacturer since the 1980s, J-Pac specializes in the manipulation of rolls and sheets of medical-grade polymers used in permanent medical implants.

“We’ve done it piecemeal, but I think what we realized is there is a whole section of the marketplace we don’t have access to because we didn’t have a focus on absorbable polymer products,” said Rick Crane, vice president of Innovation Services at J-Pac.

While some implants are made to be a permanent fixture in the body, there are now implants that are absorbed into the body after serving its purpose, leaving the least foreign matter in the patient, as surgeons prefer, said Crane.

“There are a lot of applications in the area of sports medicine,” said Crane. “You might see products like suture anchors or ligating clips. The suture types can be incorporated into a broad range of products.”

Crane said such products are also typical in the orthopedics, trauma, wound management, tissue replacement, plastic surgery and neural and endoscopy market segments.

And, due to the nature of absorbable products, they must be manufactured and produced in a low humidity environment, which extends the shelf life and efficacy for materials and components that are moisture sensitive.

For low-volume dry room processing, J-Pac has custom fabrication rooms that are maintained at less than 30 percent relative humidity and feature a modified atmosphere pouch packaging room, a nitrogen storage chamber and a nitrogen drying oven.

There is also a high-volume dry room that is maintained at less than 20 percent relative humidity.

The new capabilities will support manufacturing and packaging absorbable polymers, lyophilized materials supporting implantation or diagnostic testing and any production flow reliant on low-humidity processing and modified atmosphere packaging.

Several medical device companies that J-Pac contracts with to manufacture permanent implant work also own designs for absorbable medical products.

“Now we can go after the gambit of surgical products. The implants that will provide a permanent fix and then the products that will be placed in the body and absorb over time,” said Crane.

Crane said absorbable products could evolve further. For instance, an absorbable strip that provides an oral dose of medication.

“This is just one building block in preparation for that next generation of medical products,” said Crane. “I think this is the first salvo.”

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