Patient safety and user friendliness are top priorities: the Amber® Pen makes for interactive applications through an NFC chip integrated in the label. Photo: Schreiner Group
Added Security and Convenience
Innovative Medicine Packaging conquers Pharmaceutical Sector
Making Taking Medication Easy
Based on currently published figures from research institute Grand View Research, the global pharmaceuticals industry generated sales to the tune of US$ 89.5 billion in 2015 – not least thanks to innovative drug packaging. Experts at the Freedonia Group forecast 6.5% growth in this sector over the coming two years. However, companies will not only have to “gear up” in terms of quantity but also quality. Sustained problems occurring especially with older patients and medication intake errors, but also security gaps in e-commerce or issues caused by new regulations such as the EU Ordinance on Medicinal Products adopted last October all require thinking “out of the box” for packaging solutions.
For patient-specific drug blisters a patient’s daily medication needs are compiled in line with doctor’s orders, wrapped individually and extensively labelled. Photo: Kreuzapotheke
Since 1 October 2016 physicians in EU member states have been obliged to give a printed out medication plan to their patients who have to take over three medications at the same time – in Germany this is over one third of all known cases. Incorrect or omitted medication intake causes annual costs of some US$ 300 billion in the USA alone. Producers are now responding to these changed demands with innovative packaging solutions.
Patient Alert Cards and Medical Alert Cards as part of drug packaging are gaining importance and becoming more and more valuable for patients. Photo: August Faller Group
Patient Alert Cards
Customisable with personal data: thanks to Patient Alert Cards important data such as safety notes or individualised intake regimes can be read any time. As a rule, the cards are made of solid paper, foil or cardboard and resemble conventional credit cards in terms of dimensions. They are integrated into tablet boxes as banderols, labels or a glued combination of patient card and packaging insert or are attached to glass bottles. Even special versions such as Medical Alert Cards for diabetics or ID-cards with organ donation and/or allergic reaction information are available to the drug sector. In addition to this, up to six-page folders can be added to packaging units through further inside or outside flaps. Thanks to a perforation this information is easy to detach for separate safekeeping.
Endless packaging inserts could soon be replaced – by integrated miniature monitors or loudspeakers that provide patients with personalised medication instructions. Photo: Kzenon/fotlia.com
Technology for the Future
Thanks to packaging featuring chips, holograms or QR codes users can identify original products at first glance. Smart packaging is increasingly capable of reminding patients of taking their drugs. Via Smartphone these clever “envelopes” provide additional information as a pdf file or link to the relevant website. Temperature sensors show whether the medication has exceeded and/or fallen below the specified storage temperature by changing colour. In general, there is a stronger focus on end users: pre-fillable syringes avoid infection risks by means of high-quality barrier films, and anti-slip grips prevent slipping during injection. Pull-off mechanisms made of multi-layer nylon films ease the opening and resealing of packs and built-in mini-monitors provide patients with intake data without them having to remove and read the packaging insert.
Patient-relevant data is attached as a banderol to the wrist or can form part of the drug packaging. Photo: Zebra.com
But not only pharmaceutical packaging is getting smarter – companies are also opting for new avenues in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. More and more single-use systems such as filters, blenders, bio-reactors or filling syringes are used. Single-use filling systems for aseptic filling that are only use once are considered forward-looking. Compared with permanently fixed components they reduce the risk of polluting preparations during the production process; this is why these systems are increasingly used in sterile filling processes. The use of single-use systems for filling in the form of hoses or filling needles therefore often proves more efficient due to easier cleaning and the elimination of product adhesions. Further advantages of single-use systems are shorter production cycle times because sterilisation and cleaning steps of components are eliminated and the associated costs for detergents, water and energy can be saved. Furthermore, product changeovers can be executed more quickly resulting in greater flexibility. And last but not least, this approach pays special attention to safety because single-use systems can drastically reduce cross-contamination risks.
Colour codes can protect patients from confusing drugs in similar packaging units. Photo: PACK & SPARE