The US market for pharmaceutical packaging will grow by nearly a third between 2004 and 2011, driven by the increasing demands placed on packaging by biologic drugs and novel drug delivery formulations, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
A just-published report from F&S suggests that the market will swell from $2.6 billion in 2004 to just under $3.4 billion in 2011 as the role of pharmaceutical packaging shifts from a passive to an active one, making a contribution to effective drug delivery.
Drug delivery systems such as nasal sprays, inhalers, transdermal patches, and oral ingestion are redefining the market, according to the report. Meanwhile, biologic drugs and quick dissolving tablets are increasing the need for high barrier packages.
Other trends highlighted by F&S include a shift from vials and ampoules to prefilled syringes because of their ease of use and convenience. Nasal sprays and inhalers are likely to contribute to almost one-fourth of the revenue growth in the near future.
"These new drug delivery systems are non-invasive and lead to better patient compliance," points out F&S research analyst Balaji Capaloor.
Particularly, biologics-based drugs - which are particularly sensitive to moisture, oxygen, and light - require high barrier packages, and this is driving the adoption of blister packaging, which will widely used in Europe is less popular in the US. Blister packaging's share of the market will also rise on the back of increasing recognition of the positive impact it can have on patient compliance.
Meanwhile the report notes that growth in the pharmaceutical packaging market is being buoyed by an increase in the acquisitions of existing companies by new entrants, as well as increasing prescription scripts, resulting in growth in unit pharmaceutical sales. The rise in the aging population is stimulating demand for packages that are simultaneously convenient for elders to handle and are child-resistant.
US pharmaceutical manufacturers and converters are concentrating on down-gauging, as well as reducing package thickness and raw material consumption, without compromising on the product quality and by improving the processes and technologies implemented.
"Cost reduction gains greater importance among pharmaceutical companies as there is a drop in the number of expected blockbuster drugs in the pipeline and many of drugs are going off patent," notes F&S.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are increasingly becoming involved in the design process to devise means to curtail the damages during transit in case of mail order and Internet pharmacies, and are adopting innovative designs to make their products attractive. The drug industry has also started to look at implementation radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in packages to overcome counterfeiting and in addition for tracking and managing inventory across the supply chain.