A France-based packaging solutions company plans to launch heat-shrink labels with integrated holograms into the pharma industry, in what it believes will be the next big counterfeiting solution for the sector.
Sleever International is in discussions with a major but undisclosed pharmaceutical company for the use of the newly launched Holosleeve 3D, an integrated packaging solution which combines three disclosed technologies to deter counterfeiters on several levels. The product was first developed for the alcohol and spirits market with the recent release of the application for Hennessy Cognac XO, but Sleever has now focussed on the pharmaceutical industry.
The counterfeit drug industry is currently booming with estimates that the black market would reach $75bn (€55.6bn) by 2010. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, barcodes and various other solutions have been offered to the industry as security measures. Speaking to in-PharmaTechnologist.com, Sleever marketing manager Pascal Leroy said the Holosleeve 3D "is one of the best answers" to the "very very difficult problem" of counterfeits.
Combining three disclosed technologies, the Holosleeve 3D is a heat-shrink label integrated with holograms, and based on the same idea where holograms are used on bank notes. The first technology is the sleeve, which in the case of Hennessy Cognac goes around the neck of the bottle, that can remember its deformation after heat shrinking, making it possible to create relief effects or three dimensional patterns. In this way the name of the brand can be written in relief on the sleeve.
The second technology is the printing on the sleeve creating a three dimensional (3D) motif combined with up to six-colour helio-engraving printing in addition to highly precise positioning and a vast range of special effects which are very difficult to copy. The third technology, developed in partnership with Hologram Industries, involves a new generation of high-security demetallic holograms, which self destruct when the bottle, or pharmaceutical package, is opened.
Leroy said the product was virtually tamper-proof because no one else had the technological capability to be able to copy the sleeve. "This technology changes year-after-year. Holosleeve was launched a couple of years ago but now we have added more technology to further complicate it for someone to copy. If you look at the solution in five years it will be different to ensure the product would not be copied."
While it was too early to name a pharmaceutical launch date for the Holosleeve 3D, Leroy said it would be easy to apply the product to pharmaceuticals. "On a bottle it would be very simple; it is the same system as for wine. We can apply the Holosleeve even if the product is in a carton, plastic or metal box. The final result from a design point of view would be different," Leroy said.
He also said it would be possible to incorporate a track and trace mechanism but declined to comment further. The cost of the product was undisclosed.
"Production price is nothing compared to the risks to brand image." "If you buy fake cognac it might be tea and you're still alive, but if you buy a fake medic the consequences could be very different."