How Pharmaceutical Companies Can Leverage Smart Labels

Smart labels help boost patient compliance in several ways: with alerts, monitoring, tracking, and behavorial insights. But they go beyond that to deliver safety and production benefits too.

Jack Shaw, Senior Writer and Editor

May 21, 2024

4 Min Read
Pharmaceutical customer
Gorodenkoff / iStock via Getty Images Plus

At a Glance

  • Patients can scan a Quick Response (QR) code and access comprehensive information regarding their medicine.
  • Drug companies and pharmacies can track shipments with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
  • Near-field communication (NFC) tags allow patients to verify a drug's authenticity, helping prevent the use of fake products.

Every medical professional wants patients to take their medication and feel better. Unfortunately, not every patient does. While pharmaceutical companies have limited influence over patient compliance, developments in smart labeling are turning the tables.

Here is how pharmaceutical companies are optimizing labeling to encourage patients to adhere to treatments.

Calls for optimal patient compliance.

Medical advancements have resulted in more cures for diseases. However, about 50% of patients do not take their prescribed medications. Not complying with the doctor’s orders can worsen a person’s condition and result in rehospitalization. There’s also the case of pharmaceuticals going to waste.

Many factors spark patient noncompliance. Some get sidetracked or do not understand their dosing schedule or requirements. Others endure side effects or become overwhelmed by the amount they must take. Rather than raising questions, they may simply refuse treatment.

The science behind smart labels.

Pharmaceutical companies must share medication labels and inform people what they take. Product names, active ingredients, and in-depth drug descriptions are essential — but only so much can fit on the packaging.

Pharmaceutical companies can provide all information and more through smart labels by creating a website with product FAQs. Patients can then use their smartphones to scan a unique Quick Response (QR) code and access comprehensive information regarding their medicine.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are also a prominent smart label in the pharmacy industry. Professionals transmit data and update its memory with an RFID writer, attaching them to the drug’s container. RFID tags allow companies to scan and track the unit with a receiver.


How to best use smart labels.

There are many other kinds of smart labels, each maintaining a specific purpose. The pharmaceutical industry can leverage these different tags and promote patient compliance in the long term.

1. Personalized patient reminders and monitoring.

Smart labels create a personalized experience. For example, one startup recently developed a smart label connected to a notification system from which patients and clinics can benefit. Synchronyx enables patients to report when they have taken their medication by tapping their mobile device onto the tag.

If a patient forgets to take their pills, the notification system sends a reminder to them. Smart labels empower patients and create a sense of self-reliance. Doctors can also feel more at ease since they do not have to worry about whether their patients follow their prescriptions.

2. Consumption and storage details.

Instructions on dosage schedules and other consumption details are essential in drug labeling. Flexographic label printing provides patients with the high-quality prints they need to read through and process information. The ability to print multiple images with one template also sets a precedent for better and faster QR code printing.

There are also smart labels for storage. For instance, time-temperature indicators record the conditions in which patients store their medication. This temp tag provides insight into prolonged exposure and whether a medical product has a good shelf life.

3. Inventory management.

Pharmaceutical companies have limited resources when producing certain medications, so practicing good inventory management is crucial. RFID tags allow companies to effortlessly locate products throughout the supply chain, from storage to release to distribution.

RFID tags have multiple benefits. Upon scanning, companies get real-time information about the products’ location. Those instant updates keep track of stock and alert whether supplies on the shelf are running low.

4. Product quality and safety verification.

There are no specific standards surrounding drug information in smart labels. Still, the US Food and Drug Administration’s Physician Label Rule must submit regulatory documents to validate a product’s quality and safety.

Most regulatory documents require reviewing multiple sets of information, but there are ways to minimize potential human error and speed up the process. A study successfully used AI to classify free text into different labeling sections. Having more organized text helps improve comprehension.

There are also near-field communication or NFC tags. This type of smart label provides information on expiration dates. It also allows patients to verify the authenticity of a medical product, preventing the use of fake treatments.

Using smart labels for patient compliance.

Smart labels help improve patient comprehension and treatment compliance, while market projections indicate a $21.2 billion growth by 2034. However, there are still developments pharmaceutical companies can invest in.

Technological innovations impact so many industries. Pharmaceutical companies should use smart labeling and create more patient-friendly packaging for their medication. Making information more accessible can boost compliance in the long run.

About the Author(s)

Jack Shaw

Senior Writer and Editor, Modded

Jack Shaw is a Senior Writer and Editor at Modded. He’s from New York, NY, and has more than six years of experience writing for the men’s lifestyle niche. When not writing, Shaw can be found playing with his pets, cooking, training, or out exploring.

Shaw has covered everything from cars to sports to men’s health. You might even call him a Jack-of-all-trades. His writings have been featured in OffRoad XtremeSportsEd TVBarBend, and more.

Reach him at [email protected], on LinkedIn, or via his digital portfolio at

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like