How Intelligent Ink and Printed Electronics Revolutionize Pharma Packaging

There are several medications that have to be stored at a certain temperature. Otherwise they might not only become unusable but also dangerous to the patient’s health. Add this to the fact that patients are not constantly adhering to their prescriptions or forget to take their medicine and you see how important smart packaging has become for the pharma industry.

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There are several medications that have to be stored at a certain temperature. Otherwise they might not only become unusable but also dangerous to the patient’s health. Add this to the fact that patients are not constantly adhering to their prescriptions or forget to take their medicine and you see how important smart packaging has become for the pharma industry.

No wonder, that interactive packaging for pharma products is steadily growing and already reached more than 30 billion Dollars. But how exactly can intelligent pharma packaging help ensuring better patient care?

Researching intelligent ink for correct storage of pharma packaging

Recently Dr. Marta Canas-Ventura won Evonik’s first Entrepreneurship Award with an idea contributing to correct medication storage. She discovered intelligent ink that changes its color when exposed to heat or light. Through that it’s possible to indicate whether medication has been stored properly after being used in the packaging process. Now the physicist has one year to develop her idea to business level. Evonik is going to fund her work with 200.000 Euro.

A similar approach comes from E Ink Corporation, the world’s leading developer and producer of electronic paper displays. Since 2015 they are researching the E Ink display module PhutureMed in cooperation with the packaging solutions provider for pharmaceuticals Palladio Group. This system can be integrated within paperboard carton of pharma packages and record a log of all events the package is exposed to during storage. This is made possible by built-in temperature sensors, timers and activation triggers. But at present, PhutureMed is still developing a prototype.

New opportunities for safety in the pharma packaging industry

Another approach comes from REMEDIES, who develop agile packaging concepts. This project is headed by GlaxoSmithKline with research led by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing and supported by partners such as The Centre for Process Innovation and AstraZeneca. From 2014 to 2018 the joint venture aims to improve patient outcomes and compliance by incorporating printed electronics and adding wireless applications in pharma packaging.

In conclusion, smart packaging is a great way to minimize health risks associated with unsafe, spoiled or expired drugs. But there’s even more to this. After all, intelligent packaging concepts offer other benefits like anti-counterfeiting technologies. So, will this market grow further? Tell us your thoughts in a comment below!