The 2017 shopping list of pharmaceutical and medical packaging professionals

By Daphne Allen in Packaging Research on December 13, 2016

What packaging technologies will pharmaceutical and medical packaging professionals be sourcing in 2017? We recently surveyed professionals involved in the pharmaceutical and medical packaging community about their technology needs over the next 12 months and how they stay educated. The survey findings, based on the responses of 210 professionals, indicate a focus on product identification, package usability, and cost savings.

 

Several coding and labeling technologies are slated for increased spending over the next 12 months. For instance, 45% of respondents expect their companies’ expenditures to increase when it comes to labels, digital printing, product identification, and decorating technologies. Forty-one percent expect spending for cartons to increase.

 

Such findings appear to reflect industry efforts to comply with mandates for Unique Device Identification and item-level serialization under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act.

 

The most popular type of package coding and printing technology is pressure-sensitive labels (44% of respondents), followed by preprinted direct-package printing (43%). Only 15% use shrink-sleeve labeling.

 

In terms of packaging formats, flexible packaging should see a bump over the next 12 months. For example, 34% of respondents expect to see increased spending for such formats as bags and pouches.

 

Contract support will be in demand next year, too: 30% of respondents report increased spending on contract packaging and manufacturing services. Such expenditures are not surprising, given ongoing utilization of contract fillers, packagers, and assemblers. And these contract companies have been scaling up their capital investments to help pharmaceutical companies serialize their products.

 

We also asked respondents to share the importance of specific packaging features, ranking them on a scale where 5 equals very important and 1 not at all important. Seventy percent of respondents ranked “usability” with either a 4 or a 5, followed by 69% ranking “cost reduction” with either a 4 or a 5. Adherence/compliance promotion features were ranked a 4 or a 5 by 61%.

 

Interestingly, performance issues were ranked lower than cost concerns. Fifty-nine percent ranked “barrier performance: moisture, oxygen, light protection” with either a 4 or a 5; 50% ranked “barrier performance: sterile” with either a 4 or 5. Such mid-level rankings shouldn’t be seen as an indicator of a drop in package performance, though, because not all products require a moisture or sterile barrier, for instance.

 

Additional survey responses, though, reveal the heightened importance of managing cost. When asked to indicate their biggest packaging challenges, 54% of respondents ranked managing costs with either a 4 or a 5, followed by 48% selecting complying with regulatory requirements and 45% selecting implementing innovation.

 

We also asked respondents how they typically learn about new packaging technologies. The top three resources respondents typically turn to for learning about new packaging include vendor/supplier Web sites (selected by 49%), industry conferences/trade shows (48%), and digital trade publications (ads and editorial; 40%).

 

When it comes to using social media for professional reasons, 66% of respondents use LinkedIn, 53% use YouTube, and 38% use Google+.

 

Click below to download more data from this year’s survey, such as additional responses to the above-mentioned questions as well as survey methodology and demographics on the respondents.

 

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