Innovations in Cartons, Labels, and Inserts

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Equipment and Processing Report

Equipment and Processing Report, Equipment and Processing Report-09-21-2016, Volume 9, Issue 9

Award-winning drug packaging innovations include interactive cartons and multifunctional labels.

Printed pharmaceutical packaging materials perform a myriad of functions. Many suppliers are broadening capabilities, too.

Improving efficiency
Rondo-Pak recently merged with Contemporary Graphics Solutions and now provides a product range that extends from marketing materials to leaflets and cartons. Digital printing and in-house carton production allow Rondo-Pak to deliver ready-to-pack cartons in days. Capable of producing runs ranging from five or 10 production samples to several hundred thousand, the ready-to-pack cartons are particularly well-suited for clinical trials and human-factor testing. “It’s a way to provide the same packaging the commercial product will use before the commercial line is installed,” says Victor Dixon, president and chief operating officer of Rondo-Pak.

In addition, Rondo-Pak designs leaflets to match cartons for optimum performance on the packaging line. In one case, the optimized carton/leaflet combination improved line efficiency so much, “it eliminated overtime on the weekends,” reports Dixon. “Rondo-Pak line technicians and packaging engineers perform line optimization studies to identify ways to boost efficiency, which might involve a different gauge of paperboard, a different fold on the insert, or a different orientation of the insert.”

Clever cartons and inserts
To eliminate the need to load inserts on the packaging line, CCL Healthcare supplies cartons with the inserts glued in place inside. Added flaps provide space for multiple languages. 

A more interactive carton, Memo Solution, integrates an electronic-ink-based display and sensors to create a “smart box.” Part of Palladio Group’s PhutureMed program, which won a Silver Award in the 2016 edition of the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, the Memo Solution carton registers the time a dose is taken, monitors ambient temperature, and provides a warning if conditions exceed specified parameters. Another PhutureMed carton, Phill Solution, is printed with conductive inks. Each time a pill is removed from the blister, and the foil seal is broken, a message is sent to the patient’s smart device. This record of doses also can be shared with a caregiver, doctor, or insurance provider (1).

A magnet holds together a dual-carton physician sample kit from Rondo-Pak. The design consists of two, four-sided cartons to create a six-sided unit (see Figure 1). One carton features a partition to hold an item; its mate includes a dispensing spout.

As regulatory requirements grow so does insert size. One of the largest currently available, the 294 Panel RTA by Mini Graphics, unfolds to present 818 square inches of text.

Multifunctional labels
Labels that do more than one job include the Hanger Info Label from August Faller Group, the winner of a WorldStar Award 2016 from the World Packaging Organization (see Figure 2).


Designed for use on infusions, the label includes a multi-page brochure, which provides space for instructions in multiple languages and can be removed to be read and firmly reattached many times so information stays with the container. In use, a portion of the tear-resistant label is peeled away. A special adhesive firmly secures the resulting loop to the bottle. Removable sections peel off for application to patient records to document administration. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and associated errors (2).

Another award-winning hanger label, the Pharma-Tac Plus label from Schreiner MediPharm, includes several pages for product information and two detachable documentation parts, which can be post-printed with the batch number. In fact, Schreiner MediPharm recently established a process center for this type of late-stage customization (3). Developed jointly with Octapharma, the Pharma-Tac Plus label won first place in the “multi-process” category of an international competition organized by the North American Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (4).

A label with a detachable section helps reduce the risk of patients receiving the wrong medication at clinical sites. The peel-off section of the Peel-ID Safe Storage Label from Catalent Pharma Solutions is printed with the patient kit identifier and applied to the kit so it’s easy to locate in storage. The printed identifier facilitates inventory management, retrieval, and dispensing and minimizes risks associated with illegible handwriting or transposed numbers (5).


1.   Palladio Group, “DuPont Packaging Award Winner – PhutureMed,” Press Release, June 3, 2016.

2.   August Faller GmbH, “WorldStar Award 2016: August Faller Impresses Expert Jury with ‘Hanger Info Label,’” Press Release, May 2016.

3.   Schreiner Medipharm, “Schreiner MediPharm Introduces Late Stage Customization for Functional Labels, Press Release, Aug. 5, 2016.

4.   Schreiner Medipharm, “Pharma-Tac Plus Label from Schreiner MediPharm Wins First Place in North American Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute International Competition,” Press Release, Oct. 27, 2015.

5.   Catalent Pharma Solutions, “Catalent Introduces Peel-ID™ Safe Storage Label to Improve Storage and Retrieval of Patient Kits, Press Release, May 19, 2016.