Smart packaging: printed and organic electronics ensure greater safety and service for patients. Photo: DuPont

Smart packaging: printed and organic electronics ensure greater safety and service for patients. Photo: DuPont

Pharmaceutical packaging 2017: forecasts and needs

Innovative technologies and new needs

The importance of the European pharmaceutical industry has been underlined in a recent study by the economic research institute WifOR. In total, the companies that took part have an industry-specific workforce of 865,000. A growing number of senior citizens and a rising demand for medical care in developing countries have been causing increasing requirements on pharmaceutical packaging. What are the changes that can be expected this year, and where should companies put the emphasis? These are questions that were answered by a survey among 210 industry experts. Generally speaking, there was a consensus that the focus should be on product identification, usage variations and cost reductions.
Costs
  • 45 per cent of all respondents expect to see rising costs in the production of forge-proof packaging with digital codes and state-of-the-art labelling technology for product identification, though also on decorative elements. 41 per cent – only 4% less – are sure that carton packaging, too, will become more expensive.
  • Just over a third (34 per cent) believe that there will be a steady increase in the need for flexible packaging until the end of the year, but that this will also cause higher costs in producing bags in suitable formats.
  • Finally, 30 per cent expect to see higher spendings for packaging facilities and manufacturers.
Respondents believe that this general increase is due to issues in implementing new regulatory requirements to ensure standardised product labelling. A large number of contractors are investing more money in the serialisation of pharmaceutical packaging, so that they comply with the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act and similar European and other international regulations.  

Characteristics
Using a scale from 1 to 5, the following percentages of respondents rated specific packaging properties as either important or very important:
  • 70% usability or user-friendliness
  • 69% cost reduction 61% compliance with advertising statements
  • 59% barrier properties to prevent contact with moisture, oxygen or light
  • 50% sterility
More than 40% of respondents in the pharmaceutical packaging industry are particularly keen to use adhesive labels and preprinted direct packaging for the coding of packages. Photo: Faubel

More than 40% of respondents in the pharmaceutical packaging industry are particularly keen to use adhesive labels and preprinted direct packaging for the coding of packages. Photo: Faubel

Advanced skills are needed

Porsche Consulting serves the pharmaceutical industry and indeed the entire packaging industry in the German-speaking area. Although, in a recent survey conducted by this firm, 85 per cent of managers said they saw digitisation as a major future development on today’s packaging market, nearly two thirds (70%) of affected companies apparently still lack the necessary resources for the skilled use of smart packaging. Over half (52%) believe that smart packaging will improve customer loyalty. Furthermore, over 70 per cent of all packaging companies are planning to use digital methods in handling their orders within the next year. This would be a 49% increase compared with the current situation.

57 per cent of all respondents are expecting to base their packaging production on real-time data and to do so no later than 2018. At the moment, around 15 per cent can access data such as their customers’ stock levels and are automatically notified as soon as those stocks need to be replenished. Over the next two years this value will almost triple (43%).

Sources of information:

To avoid being left behind on innovation and change,
  • 49% use suppliers’ and vendors’ websites
  • 48% use conferences and tradeshows
  • 40% use digital publications such as adverts and editorials
The following picture emerges for the business use of social media:
  • LinkedIn: 66%
  • YouTube: 53%
  • Google+: 38%
Photo: Constanze Tillmann / Messe Düsseldorf

Photo: Constanze Tillmann / Messe Düsseldorf

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