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Smart packaging for Rx and cosmetics (sidebar)

Pharmaceutical products and cosmetics are both high-value product categories that are prime territory for low-cost smart packaging techniques. That’s according to a just-published study, Low-Cost Smart Packaging in Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics, from Pira Intl.
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The study cites some of the new methods making their way into packaging for these high-end segments. Included are the following technologies:

• Electronic compliance monitoring of medications in blister packs and bottles

• Battery-powered patches for product application

• Timers for hair treatments

• Talking packages to assist the blind and sight-impaired

• Track-and-trace functions across the supply chain

• Visual displays to indicate the “freshness” of vaccines

or to promote products

• Enhanced levels of brand security and authentication

• Tamper-evident seals and sterilization indicators

The report states that Electronic Article Surveillance and RFID techniques are leading areas of growth. For example the use of EAS tags on perfumes has led to extra sales of 10% to 20% by facilitating the access of the customer to the protected product.

At the Pira Intl. Brand Protection USA conference in April 2004 Eli Lilly stated that pharmaceutical products are regrettably easy to counterfeit. Package designs are simple and packaging components such as bottles vials seals caps and labels are readily available. Moreover pharmacists and consumers may not detect counterfeits.

The counterfeiting picture is just as bad for cosmetics and toiletries where the report indicated the following:

• 10% of the value of toiletries sold globally is counterfeit

• The use of inappropriate diluents such as urine strong acids and strong alkalis in counterfeit products may be harmful to users

• 7.2% of the European Union market for cosmetics and toiletries is estimated to be counterfeit

Published December 2004 and available for $529 the Pira report states that the high value of pharmaceutical and cosmetics along with the benefits that accrue to users offset many of the cost considerations for smart and intelligent packaging technologies.

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Higher IQ packaging

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