Developed countries of Western Europe, the US and Japan will continue to account for over 70 per cent of demand, however, the market in China, predicted to grow 12.5 per cent in the next three years, will be the strongest area of growth, according to a new market research report by >The Freedonia Group.
As China's economy begins to blossom, its drug manufacturing capabilities are rapidly expanding and this, coupled with an extensive government program designed to upgrade the quality and reputation of its medicines, is making China a hot spot for growth in the drug packaging market.
Other major developing economies, such as India and Brazil will also experience strong expansion in this market, although by 2009 will still only be small time players in global terms.
The world's current leader, the US, will continue to generate the lion's share of pharmaceutical packaging, and is also tipped as the second fastest growth opportunity, at an expected rate of 7.8 per cent, largely attributed to its flourishing advanced drug-producing sector.
According to the report, government legislation changes will be a leading factor in packaging growth in both Western European and Japan.
In Western European, demand will stem from new government standards requiring many types of medication to have unit-dose-and high-barrier packaging.
In Japan, a relaxing of government drug price controls will impact favorably on sales of drug packaging as the market begins to rebound from its current depressed state.
Demand for primary pharmaceutical containers, accounting for the largest chunk of the packaging pie, is expected to increase 6.8 per cent to nearly $21 bn by 2009.
Plastic bottles, the global staple of the drug packages, will continue to account for the bulk of demand in this sector and expanding applications in both solid and liquid oral drugs are expected to create above average growth opportunities for these containers.
However, as the advanced drug-producing sector continues to introduce new and sophisticated therapies with specialised packaging needs, this area of packaging will generate the fastest growth opportunities, with prefillable inhalers and syringes at the forefront.
Equipment upgrades allowing more cost effective production, coupled with trends favoring unit dose packaging, will also boost demand for pharmaceutical blister packaging pouches and strip packs.
However, not all sectors are growing. The world market for medication tubes is slowing down due to competition from pouches and plastic dispensing bottles.
In addition, demand is cooling for IV containers, vials and ampuls, glass bottles and jars, and aerosol cans due to advances in packaging technology rendering them outdated.
A smaller but equally active segment of the packaging market, pharmaceutical closures and accessories is also expected to grow at a rate of 5.1 per cent annually to $9.5 billion in 2009.
Spurred on by stricter government and industry standards covering the safety and security of drug containers, child-resistant closures and tamper-evident accessories, such as RFID tags, will see the fastest gains in this sector.
Senior-friendly dispensing closures and package labels, and compliance-enhanced prescription containers are also set to develop through increased lobbying from medical groups.
Of the 1200 companies competing in the global drug packaging industry, the top Western players, Alcan, Amcor, Cardinal Health, MeadWestvaco, SCHOTT Pharmaceutical Packaging, Gerresheimer, Owens-Illinois and Becton & Dickinson, hold almost a quarter of the market share.
However with more specialised and security-friendly delivery systems gaining popularity and China beginning to pose a threat, the market can expect to see other companies soon muscling in.
A copy of the report World Pharmaceutical Packaging to 2009 can be requested on Freedonia Group's >website.