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DS Smith: Latest trends affecting pharmaceutical packaging

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New trends in pharma packaging are closely related to developments in emerging markets, demographic changes and new technologies.

Emerging countries influence the worldwide pharmaceutical market in many aspects. As the population is getting older, densely populated countries such as China and India extend the access to healthcare system to a larger number of people. Generics are on the rise here, as they are more affordable and also due to the expiry of big pharma patents. Populations are aging at an even faster rate in emerging countries than in developed countries.

WHO estimates that between 2010 and 2050, the number of older people in less developed countries is projected to increase more than 250%, compared with a 71% increase in developed countries. As life expectancy improves, healthcare professionals have to deal with increased number of chronic illnesses affecting people at an older age, and are non-communicable, such as dementia, cancer, arthritis. In developed countries, people are affected by illesses resulting from their way of life, such as obesity, diabethes or cardiovascular problems. They are increasingly being treated by biologics.

Patient-oriented medicine: Biologics in focus

Biologics, such as gene- and cell-based therapies, are used for illnesses where other treatments are not available. They are different from chemically synthetised drugs with known structure, because biologics are composed of complex molecules or mixture of mollecules. As biologics are manufactured using microorganisms, plant, animal or human cells, their structure is not easily identified. They also tend to be heat sensitive, prone to contamination and their manufacturing process must be closely monitored to ensure the same consistency and quality over time (source: FDA, BIO).

Pharmaceutical industry sees huge potential in biologic drugs which constitute personalized medicine. This could mean that these solutions won’t be delivered to an intermediary (such as pharmacy) but directly to the patient. This could lead to an endless number of shipments, in two directions:
  • Shipments from pharma companies directly to patients
  • Patients shipping biologic materials to pharma companies
Even though air transport is the preferred mode of shipping pharmaceutical products, due to rising airfares, logistics companies increasingly use sea transport and need to ensure stable temperature and humidity conditions for the transported sensitive products, especially biologic drugs. They also have to overcome such obstacles as poor infrastructure in some parts of the world, and comply with existing and new regulations on transport of pharmaceuticals.

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