The pharmaceutical packaging market

Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe-11-01-2009, Volume 21, Issue 11

According to a survey conducted by Pharmaceutical Technology Europe (PTE), almost 50% of you believe that cost is the biggest limiting factor to innovation in the pharmaceutical packaging industry.

According to a survey conducted by Pharmaceutical Technology Europe (PTE), almost 50% of you believe that cost is the biggest limiting factor to innovation in the pharmaceutical packaging industry, while regulations were also thought to present a major hurdle to new development, accounting for almost two-thirds of the remaining votes.1 The pharmaceutical industry recognizes the importance of good packaging design, in particular because of the continuing pressure to aid patient compliance, meet regulatory demands, and increase a brand's life and appeal; however, manufacturers must also innovate while improving efficiency and adapting to the growing threat of drug counterfeiting. Added to the pressure is also the emphasis that is being placed on green manufacturing methods and the need to be more environmentally responsible. In a separate survey conducted by PTE, an overwhelming 85% of respondents believed that the pharmaceutical industry needs to adopt greener approaches to packaging.2 But in this highly regulated industry, is this achievable? PTE enlisted the help of industry experts to bring you a clear picture of the pharmaceutical packaging industry today. In this special feature we aim to provide some insight into where the industry is heading, what opportunities exist, and what hurdles will need to be overcome to achieve success in this highly competitive market.

Paul Taylor/Getty Images

The global market for pharmaceutical packaging is set to reach $62.3 billion by 2013, with the US expected to continue its domination of the market; accounting for 28% of packaging sales (Table 1).3 Of all geographic regions, Asia-Pacific is set to experience the strongest growth rate, with China being the biggest driver to growth in the region, and predicted to growth at an annual growth rate of 11.5%.

Table 1: World pharmaceutical packaging market size ($ million).

Developing economies set for strong growth

"The developing economies will experience the highest growth rates in the coming years for several reasons, the main reason being the increasing availability of low cost generic drugs," said Bill Martineau, analyst at The Freedonia Group (publishers of World Pharmaceutical Packaging3). "The use of drug therapy to compensate for deficiencies in healthcare delivery systems will also stimulate growth in these regions," he added.

According to Martineau, growth in the global market will be sustained by the increasing use of higher value packaging systems that: promote improved patient compliance; reduce the risk of counterfeiting and drug diversion; eliminate the risk of medication dispensing errors; support upgraded infection prevention standards in healthcare facilities; and provide a means of differentiating multiple source generic drugs.

"Growth in the Chinese pharmaceutical packaging market will be driven by the phasing in of pharmaceutical GMP standards, on par with the developed economies. This will necessitate an extensive upgrade of pharmaceutical packaging systems," explained Martineau. Elsewhere, India is expected to experience strong growth, owing to the expansion of the proprietary and generic drug markets. "Patent expirations and the increasing availability of generic drugs will also boost pharmaceutical production and related packaging demand in Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Poland and South Korea," he added.

At the expense of developed countries?

Although the market for pharmaceutical packaging in the developing countries is set to expand significantly in the next 5 years, it is thought that this will not be at the expense of the developed economies. Western Europe, Japan and the US will, therefore, continue to account for the lion's share of the market where the emphasis will be placed on valueadded packaging systems and new drug delivery vehicles. "The continuing development of biotechnology-based drugs, for example, will drive demand for parenteral packaging, especially of vials and prefillable syringes," predicted Martineau. Upgraded government standards requiring unit dose, highbarrier, anticounterfeit packaging will influence the Western European market in particular, whilst Japan will remain a large, diverse consumer of pharmaceutical containers, closures and related accessories based on its broad range of proprietary and generic drug producers.

Prefillables growing in popularity

The changing focus of drug research and delivery methods presents exciting growth prospects for manufacturers of prefillable inhalers and prefillable syringes. By 2013, these high-growth segments of the global primary packaging market are expected to reach a value of $2280 million and $3370 million, respectively. The changing needs of patients and regulators, the introduction of new bioengineered medicines, as well as the need to remain competitive, will see these sectors of the primary packaging market continue to increase in value and help drive and sustain growth. Plastic bottles will continue to command the largest share, however, based on low cost, versatility, availability and ongoing quality and design improvements. Sales of blister packaging, pouches and strip packs are also expected to strengthen.

Meanwhile, the global market for pharmaceutical closures and accessories is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.5% to 2013 to reach $24.1 billion. According to The Freedonia Group, this growth will be driven largely by a number of factors, including: increasing popularity of child-resistant, seniorfriendly and dispensing closures; complianceenhanced prescription containers; high visibility labels; and tamper-evidence and anticounterfeit accessories.

Future opportunities

With the rising pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency, packaging manufacture must also adapt their overall business strategy if they are to secure reasonable margins. According to Martineau, manufacturers should look to upgrade their packaging equipment to accommodate efficient high-and low-volume production. He also recommends the use of contract packaging systems to allow companies to expand their generic drug lines. "Companies must also look to eliminate the use of any unnecessary secondary packaging whenever feasible," he advised. In addition, Martineau believes that packaging manufacturers should be looking to upgrade the availability of the services they offer to drug makers, particularly in packaging design, packaging equipment selection and installation, and contract packaging production.

According to The Freedonia Group, around 2000 companies globally produce pharmaceutical packaging products. Based on 2008 revenues, eight international companies supplied nearly a quarter of the world pharmaceutical packaging merchant market — Rexam, MeadWestvaco, Gerresheimer, Becton Dickinson, Amcor, Catalent, West, Alcan.

For these companies to maintain and perhaps grow their market share, they must adapt to the trends that will shape the future pharmaceutical packaging market. "The biggest growth opportunities for companies will be in the manufacture of: security-enhanced labels and packaging accessories; unit dose blister packs for clinical trials and post-approval uses; safety-enhanced prefillable syringes with retractable needles; unit dose dispensing prefillable inhalers; and dispensing closures for liquid and topical pharmaceuticals," concluded Martineau.

References

1. www.pharmtech.com/packaging

2. www.pharmtech.com/greenpackaging

3. World Pharmaceutical Packaging, The Freedonia Group, June 2009.