The world’s population is growing older – the UN predicts that by 2050, an estimated 426 million people will be over 80, around three times as many as in 2019. With an increase in age, the demand for pharmaceuticals and innovative packaging solutions for an older population also increases, including personalisation, smart technologies and e-commerce.
As the world’s population grows older, the demand for medicine increases as well. In Germany alone, patients aged 80 and over take four to five different types of medicine every day. However, opening and closing pharmaceutical packaging is often challenging for elderly patients, as is dosing medicine correctly. But the development of pharmaceutical packaging for senior citizens is progressing: improved readability of instructions, easy-to-use caps, personalised packaging and intelligent technologies – the industry has recognised the demand for pharmaceutical packaging that is geared towards senior citizens and now offers various solutions.
DIGITALISATION AS A KEY FACTOR FOR PERSONALISED MEDICINES
Personalised medicine aims to promote individual treatment whilst organising the healthcare system in a profitable manner. This progress is only possible with the aid of intelligent pharmaceutical packaging for senior citizens. Bottling and packaging even the smallest batch sizes requires a high level of reliability and flexibility. The packaging industry sees digitalisation and automation as the solution.
Blister packaging centres for personalised medicine
Increasingly, blister pack machines and blister packaging centres are being used to bottle and pack small amounts of the required dose of individual tablet mixes and to allocate the tablets to an individual data set. In this process, the medicine is tailored to the patient’s needs and packed in an airtight and hygienic strip of sacs. Labelling and systematic storage of the individual weekly doses prevents mistakes and mix-ups. Besides making work easier for carers, doctors and chemists, this also saves packaging materials and reduces packaging waste.
E-commerce solutions for pharmaceutical packaging for senior citizens
Senior citizens also use the convenient option of ordering online: Worldwide, around 60 percent of people aged 50 and over ordered goods online in 2019, according to a study. This increasingly affects the field of pharmaceuticals as well: Online chemists offer individual order processes, customer-specific packaging and automated subscription services that can have a positive impact on maintaining regular medicine intake. More and more manufacturers already presort required daily doses. At the beginning of 2019, Amazon also adopted this business model and now offers selected Prime members a free delivery service for medicine for chronic diseases, called PillPack. Now, more and more independent chemist’s are following the convenience trend and are delivering the desired medicines to their customers’ doors.
When delivering sensitive medicine, active temperature control and express services increase patient safety. Photo: trans-o-flex Express GmbH
Caps and opening mechanisms geared towards senior citizens
In cooperation with foil specialist Huhtamaki, pharmaceutical technology company Romaco Siebler has developed Push Packs for patients who are losing their muscular strength and eyesight. Special barrier characteristics make it especially easy for patients to push tablets out of the foil. As Push Packs use particularly thin foil, they also reduce manufacturing costs by up to 60 percent compared to cold-formed aluminium blister packs. At the same time, the packaging is childproof and available for single as well as multiple doses.
Push Packs, the pharmaceutical packaging by Romaco Siebler, are easy to use and allow exact dosing. Photo: Romaco Siebler
Smart pharmaceutical packaging for the elderly
Smart packaging is considered a key factor for future medicine packaging. RFID, NFC and QR codes register when a package has been opened and the amount of medicine that has been used. This allows patients to use digital displays on the packaging or on connected smart devices to quickly assess how many tablets are left in the package and when to order a refill. Magnifying glasses and apps that read the texts on the packaging and in patient information leaflets make it easier for visually impaired patients to take their medicine.
Smart packaging ensures uncomplicated communications between doctors, chemists and patients and thus increases patient safety. Chemists receive information via the packaging and can then re-order the patient’s medicine on time. If medicine has not been taken correctly or has been taken irregularly, the patient’s doctor can automatically obtain this information. However, we still have some way to go before these solutions can be considered widely spread.
40 percent of all patients have hurt themselves when opening pharmaceutical packaging, studies say. Photo: Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels