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Smart packaging stops illegal drugs

A guarantee seal, a hologram and a special gluing process; these are the solutions designed as part of the RISE-managed Smedpack project with the aim of making pharmaceutical packaging safer and improving collaboration between various stakeholders, including the end user – the consumer.

Each year, approximately 700,000 people die worldwide as a result of counterfeit drugs. A growing global problem, counterfeit drugs are a major threat to lives and safety.

The project is based on EU Directive 2011/62/EU on the prevention of the entry into the legal supply chain of falsified medicinal products, as well as WHO recommendations relating to this field.

This is the background to the Sustainable and Secure Medical Packing Project, or Smedpack, which included 33 different partners and was managed by RISE until 2017. New, more stringent regulations for pharmaceutical packaging will enter into force in 2019, and RISE took the initiative to both develop new, safer packaging solutions and to strengthen cooperation between various stakeholders along the value chain.

“We quickly realised that there was considerable interest in participating and collaborating with us. The project was implemented as a consortium of closely collaborating stakeholders from the business community, higher education institutions, public authorities and industry and consumer organisations,” says Sandra Pousette, project manager of Smedpack3, the final phase of the project.

Smedpack presented three solutions; two bottles and a cardboard pack. One of these bottles was equipped with a security hologram moulded into the lid, specifically designed to be easily recognisable to consumers. The second bottle featured a guarantee seal. The cardboard packaging solution was based on a special gluing process, making it difficult to interfere with the contents.

“One of the known counterfeiting scenarios involves replacing real drugs with fake by breaking down the glue to reach the product before resealing the package. This new gluing process is intended to make that more difficult.”

As yet, the new solutions are not available on the market.

“Unfortunately, processes such as this take time, among other things due to the need to build production lines in factories. Of course, for pharmaceutical manufacturers, cost is also an issue; however, we hope and believe that the solutions will be in use in the near future. A number of companies have already been in touch to express interest in testing for compliance with Commission regulations on security details for pharmaceutical packaging,” concludes Sarah Pousette.

Published: 2018-10-04