Healthcare is one of the top priorities for everyone, all around the world. It is also a buoyant packaging market, with global demand for healthcare packaging materials reaching USD 33.4 billion. Smithers Pira forecasts the market to grow about four per cent annually until 2020 – this is mainly driven by Asia, while other regions have also registered noteworthy expansion.
To see where packaging is of particular importance here, it is important to draw a distinction between prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. In the case of the latter packaging is of particular relevance. After all, the package is the first and often the only chance for a product to appeal to the consumer.
Packaging attracts attention
“Technically, cartonboard packaging is often referred to as the ‘secondary’ package,” Christophe Baudry
, Commercial Director, Beautycare and Healthcare at Metsä Board, explains, “as it contains the bottle or other dispenser. But isn’t it in fact the primary packaging in terms of its importance? The consumer’s first impression resides here.”
The appearance of packaging in drug stores has grown in importance. It is no longer considered only a functional entity, but rather an asset to attract attention when selling over-the-counter. Supplements and vitamins have been around forever, and now – with the help of eye-catching packaging – their sales are steadily growing as the average consumer becomes more interested in them.
Then there is the rise of a new genre of product altogether – “cosmeceuticals”. The name, of course, refers to the combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. These new cosmetic products tend to contain biologically active ingredients purporting to have medical or drug-like benefits.
Another completely new product category sold in drugstores, “nutraceuticals", combines food and pharmaceuticals. Attractive packaging with the capacity to stand out naturally becomes key to communicating the benefits of these new ranges. This is what makes Metsä Board’s paperboards, made from fresh fibres, the perfect choice in these segments.
The need for anti-counterfeiting reflected in healthcare packaging solutions
Attractiveness is only one of a number of attributes that healthcare packaging must fulfil. “This is a demanding area,” Christophe Baudry points out. “Pharmaceutical packages must be reliable, promote the brand in question, preserve their quality on the shelf and in handling, be easy to use and maintain safe consumption.”
The need for anti-counterfeiting has become a major talking point in the industry. According to Interpol, the increasing prevalence of counterfeit and illicit goods has been compounded by the rise in Internet trade, where they can be bought easily, cheaply and without a prescription. It is impossible to quantify the extent of the problem, but in some areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, counterfeit medical goods can form up to 30% of the market.
The dangers associated with counterfeit drugs are very troubling indeed. Interpol states that over one million people die each year from their consumption, and they represent one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative income sources for global organized crime networks.
“It has become hugely important for manufacturers of pharmaceuticals to find new ways to ensure public safety,” says Christophe Baudry. “Packaging can play a large and helpful part here. With the right tools we can help the consumer to identify whether the product inside is real or is fake.”
Depending on the medicine it houses, good packaging not only catches the eye, but can also help us to distinguish the real deal.
Metsä Board’s paperboards used for healthcare packaging deliver specific benefits for varied end uses. This allows all the professionals involved to focus on what matters most: keeping people healthy.