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The method and magic behind innovation

Article-The method and magic behind innovation

There is a method to pharmaceutical packaging innovation, and there’s also a little magic, says Nancy Limback, who served as manager, packaging innovation & development at Sanofi. She recently led the design and development team behind the packaging for Nasacort Allergy 24HR, which was recognized with a 2015 WorldStar in the Pharmaceutical & Medical packaging category.

There are opportunities to leverage package innovation during new product launches as well as during the restaging of existing product lines, Limback told the audience at Pharmapack North America during the June 10 Keynote: “Pharma Package Innovation—Method or Magic?”

For the methods behind innovation, “begin with the end in mind,” she said. “Design inputs are important.” These include outlining product requirements for primary and secondary packaging as well as stating the brand’s personality, she added. The full range of product SKUs must be understood. Other points to consider include sustainability, tamper evidence, and product visibility, among others.

During concept development, the design team needs to explore “all details and functionality as early as possible,” she said. “You don’t want to get everyone excited about a concept and then find out you cannot do it.” Considerations also include distribution testing to ensure that product and packaging can survive. An estimated cost summary should be prepared, including capital and tooling costs.

“Keep measuring against design inputs and key criteria,” she explained. Focus groups can provide external input.

To move toward industrialization, line trials may be needed in addition to regulatory clearances and testing. 

For the magic behind successful packaging innovation, pharma companies need the right project leaders and the right team skill mix (both internal and external members), and a creative culture must be fostered, she said.

In addition to having technical knowledge, team leaders need to be visionary as well as good listeners to gather feedback—and they have to be able to sell an idea to upper management. The team should have both experienced members as well as “newbies,” and members should be “confident enough to speak up and question the status quo,” she said.

To avoid pitfalls, keep all parties engaged and informed, she said. And to protect ideas during collaboration, “use CDAs and file IP as a barrier to competitive entries.”

And ask a lot of questions. “Don’t just take that ‘it can’t be done’ from vendors, marketing, or operations,” she said.

She offered several examples of packaging innovation from Sanofi, such as the Allegra Trial Pack A-shaped blister card; the Icy Hot Smart Relief TENS therapy pads in a curved package design using sustainable materials; and the N-shaped blister card for the Nasacort Rx to OTC Allergy 24HR launch, which won a 2014 Ameristar Award and a 2015 WorldStar Award.

For more details, contact Limback, who as of August 1 is now consulting through Packaging Strategies & Solutions, at [email protected].

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