Drug manufacturers, pharmacists, physicians and users already all benefit from integrated Smart Packaging. Thanks to NFC chips and RFID labelling tablet boxes and the like can be traced along the entire supply chain and improved digital tamper and product protection can be guaranteed. By incorporating innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things or Industry 4.0 service for users is also gradually improving. The communication between labels and smartphones, LED displays and audio packaging inserts provide patients with real-time information on drug dosage and administration. And smart packaging even automatically generates re-orders upon demand.
Already successfully tested for food packaging: sensors that establish the shelf-life and remaining amount of food or beverages, warn consumers not to consume products too late and that include any missing products in the digital shopping lists. Soon drug packaging is to deliver such key data to patients, too, thereby easing handling and ensuring compliance.
Modern packaging communicates with the packaging machinery during the manufacturing process. Photo: zapp2photo, #127006677, https://de.fotolia.com/id/127006677
1) Filling level measured at the touch of a button
In future, opaque bottles containing liquid drugs will no longer have to be shaken to guess the remaining contents. The remaining quantity will pop up on a built-in e-paper display instead reminding patients to request a new prescription. Operation is easy thanks to electronic touch controls on the front of the box. Thanks to the flat design of the electronic micro controller and miniature battery the glued-on e-paper display takes up so little space that the packaging can almost retain its original size and hardly any additional material is used.
2) Tablet-counting packaging
Another interactive innovation on the pharmaceutical packaging market is a tablet box with integrated App that also reminds patients to take the drugs and – if need be – sends a request for a prescription to the packaging by Bluetooth.
Smart packaging as a data carrier opens up new information and service avenues for patients. Photo: Stora Enso
3) Optimal protection during transport thanks to temperature monitoring
Chemical changes, weather conditions, oxygen levels – all of these are especially important factors for sensitive drugs like vaccines and the like. Recently a monitoring label was developed for transporting and storing drugs that uses a sensor to safely perform up to 150,000 gapless temperature measurements over a period of three years. The monitoring results can be retrieved any time via an App at the touch of a button. The LED display on the label shows whether the cold chain was interrupted or not and whether the product is still fit for consumption.
Internet of Things:
Smart sensors may only be a small part of Artificial Intelligence and its ability to learn – but experts forecast the global smart sensor market to total US$ 60 billion by 2022.