New generation of packaging solutions

-making counterfeiting much more difficult, no chance for pharmaceutical cheats

While to get rid of rapidly increasing counterfeiting of medicines across the world, researchers are developing authenticity seals and security codes intended to make drug packagings uniquely identifiable, manufacturers of machinery and systems will present their track and trace solutions to fulfill the requirements, at interpack 2011, one of the most important events in the worldwide packaging sector, to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany from May12-18, 2011.

Buying Sinupret sinusitis tablets from pharmaceuticals producer Bionorica, anyone will now look on the folding carton a three-dimensional, optically variable, embossed mark, which can be seen in relief when the carton is tilted. In view of the fact that the herbal medicament was so often copied, Bionorica engaged the Munich company Giesecke & Devrient, which specialises in printing bank notes, to design this tangible security feature for Sinupret. Artur Theis, a subsidiary of the Edelmann Group, developed the production process for the new packaging. The mark is printed and embossed by Braun Pharmadruck – also an Edelmann subsidiary – in Bitterfeld. Sinupret, one of the most popular products on the cold treatments market, is just the start: by the end of 2011, Bionorica intends to emboss the packagings of all its product ranges with the new quality seal. “We want to provide the best possible safeguards for pharmacies and users,” says company head Michael Popp.

Producers who have problems with counterfeiters must make their products uniquely identifiable. This is especially true in the pharmaceuticals sector. Although producers of pharmaceuticals suffer losses amounting to billions of euros each year through product piracy, this is not the main problem, for counterfeit medicines threaten the health or even the lives of unsuspecting patients.

Experts confidently expect the track and trace system to be implemented throughout Europe in the near future. “The EU’s pharmaceuticals package could become law soon,” says Dörstelmann. Manufacturers of machinery and systems are well prepared for a switchover. Optima Group Pharma, for example, based in the Swabian town of Schwäbisch Hall, specialises in filling and sealing syringes and vials. It already offers, on request, coordinated track and trace solutions for producers of pharmaceuticals. “Ready-to-use syringes are stored and transported in special syringe nests in plastic boxes referred to as tubs. Our machines label the containers, so that they can be traced at any time,” explains company spokesman Henning Felix. Bosch Packaging Technology, which supplies filling, processing and packaging technology for the pharmaceuticals industry, also has printing and tracing equipment in its portfolio. Within the printing module, each minute, up to 400 folding cartons are transported on a conveyor belt through a printer, which labels each carton with a data matrix code containing a production number, use-by date and serial number. A camera subsequently checks and verifies the code. The data are finally stored on a high-capacity central server, from which they can always be called up. If a product that cannot be identified in this way turns up in a pharmacy, it must be a counterfeit.

It is unlikely that pharmaceuticals counterfeiters will be attracted by medicaments that have been provided with a security mark, a code and a top quality packaging. However, there are still many obstacles on the path to obtaining maximum patent protection. An enormous investment is required in order to retool packaging lines, and this could prevent pharmaceuticals companies from acting quickly.

Group Publications