Major trends for pharma packaging in 2018

7 Mar 2018

Experts forecast the personalised medicines, intelligent packaging and regulatory deadlines as the industry's biggest development.

Pharmapack Europe – organised by UBM – closed its most exciting edition to date, taking place at Paris Expo, Porte De Versailles on 7 & 8 February 2018. Europe’s biggest pharma packaging and drug delivery exhibition and conference highlighted upcoming trends in the industry with experts delivering an in-depth media debate focussing on smart and intelligent packaging, the increasing role that the internet has on the industry, and the potential implications of upcoming regulatory changes.

Major trends for pharma packaging in 2018

As personalised medicines become increasingly prominent in today’s industry, Professor Phillipe Arnaud – Chief of Pharmacy Department at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital and ANSM Expert – believes that customer feedback will be at the forefront of pharma packaging in the future. He envisages that with social media sites patients can write feedback to companies about certain aspects of the packaging or device that they may not like. Companies can then utilise this raw data, which can lead to a quicker evolution of new packaging with the opinion of the patients in mind.

In contrast to this, Dr Pascale Gauthier – from the biopharmaceutical department of the Pharmacy faculty at Auvergne University – argued that although the internet can bring benefits, it will raise problems, such as those with counterfeiting. Many people are so busy that they may not have time to see a doctor and so they are increasingly turning to the internet for their medicine; most of these, however, are counterfeited products, something which may become an increasing problem in 2018.

With the impending FMD/DSCSA deadlines in mind, Mr Lionel Jeannin – Global Device & Packaging Development at Novartis Pharma AG – commented that the potential impacts on manufacturing lines are vast, as companies must adapt their processes to the changes. It is a huge programme to put in place and he imagines there will be a scramble for last-minute changes in the latter half of the year as companies that haven’t put plans in place for the deadlines are looking to catch up. He adds that he doesn’t foresee the impending deadlines significantly impeding the drugs supply pipeline.

All of the judges agreed that there was a need for information on drugs – such as leaflets – to become more accessible to patients. They suggested there are technologies available to do this, highlighting that intelligent packaging was likely to see a lot of investment in the coming years. However, they also said that the industry shouldn’t rush into implementing these technologies as some therapies may raise questions of overstepping the boundaries of privacy, such as doctors tracking drugs to see whether patients have taken their recommended dosage.

The 2018 conference agenda enabled attendees to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the industry, comprising four in-depth sessions. The ‘Regulatory Changes and Impacts’ session looked at tamper verification guidelines, international legislation for child-resistant packaging (CRP) and sterile packaging. A keynote discussion during the ‘Challenges in Packaging & Devices Development’ session explored the effects biological combination products are having on device development .

The conference also explored the how ‘Newer Drug Delivery Devices Will Revolutionise Patient Life and Improve Treatment Adherence’ looking specifically at needle-free injections, nasal delivery and patient-centric packaging. But with more biotech and start-up companies creating a new wave of innovations the ‘Call For Challenges and Start-Ups’ session reviewed scale-up challenges and the current start-up ecosystem.

Finally, the Innovation Gallery returned to Pharmapack to showcase 23 of the exhibitors’ most exciting innovations, with the Pharmapack Start-Up Hub featuring a new and exciting addition: the ‘Start-Up Pitch’. This provided entrepreneurial companies with an opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of judges, each being allocated a 5-minute time slot. Putting emphasis on the wider trends observed at the event, some of the products featured included: Saralon, printed electronics for smart packing in order to combat counterfeiting; Linguanomics RD, an IT& IoT company with a digital medical label that allows patients to get information of a product on their smartphone; and Veratrak, a cloud enterprise that secures the pharma supply chain using blockchain technology.

Anne Schumacher, Brand Director at Pharmapack Europe commented: “This year’s edition of Pharmapack has been very exciting, with the event continuing to inspire innovation throughout the industry. But it also showed what a great year there is potentially ahead, pushing on with new innovations and products. Pharmapack is now the vital conduit for executives looking for new partners, to access comprehensive information on the latest trends and do the deals driving forward pharmaceutical packaging and drug delivery.”

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