Today, the Indian packaging industry worth about 23 billion US $, is considered a sunrise industry with a great scope for entrepreneurship and marketing. It is growing at a rate of 12-14% annually, which is just double to the global packaging industry growth.
The packaging industry for the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry has undergone a sea change in the past decade, coming out with a number of innovations and solutions that are consumer-friendly besides being safe and aesthetic. It is no surprise that the packaging for the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry in India is worth about Rs 25,000 crore ( approx. 6 billion US $) The Indian packaging industry for the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry is extremely competitive and is now bringing this competitiveness to the world market in many forms.
Packaging fulfills the needs of pharmaceutical industry and consumers in three ways -Presentation, Protection and Preservation. Packaging in pharmaceuticals goes beyond looks. The packaging of drugs is used to disseminate important information regarding the drug i.e. contents or chemical formula, usage, storage, dosage, precautions related to the drug usage, dates of manufacturing and expiry, batch number etc.
Sophisticated drug products, stringent government requirements and more prominent players with new emerging markets have increased the demand for pharmaceutical packaging material. According to a report published by the Freedonia Group, world pharmaceutical packaging demand for primary packaging containers is forecast to rise 6.5% annually. The market is estimated to reach over 32 billion US $ in 2016. It is also expected that the US, Australia and Europe will absorb the majority of this market because of the presence of the most advanced drug producing sectors.
The Indian packaging industry displays a range of packaging varieties starting from loose packing, strip packing and blister packing to aluminum (Alu) packing. The strength of the packaging machinery sector lies in the fact that virtually everything needs to be and can be packed, be it solids, granules or liquids.
The packaging industry for that matter has come up with a number of options in plastic, glass, aluminum, PET bottles, alu-alu, blister technology or paper. Besides, there are innovative and effective solutions like security packaging and holograms to fight challenges of counterfeiting etc.
Modern packaging machineries, on the other hand, have taken Indian packaging industry a step ahead because these machineries play a key role in ensuring packaging of exact dosage and medicines specific to individual needs.
Pharma industry has moved with the times to adopt newer and modern technologies to provide both safety and convenience in packaging. There is a major shift towards Alu – Alu and tamper proof cases in packaging methodologies. The key reasons for this are the convenience, appearance and prevention of pilferage
As an effective step towards handling counterfeits, Innovative Solutions Bilcare has recently acquired Singapore-based Singular ID through its subsidiary Bilcare Singapore. Singular ID provides anti-counterfeiting and brand security products and services on the nanotechnology platform.
Packaging is also instrumental in building a relationship between the drug and the patient or consumer. Packaging in pharma sector has an additional role to play because it is also related to compliance issues and convenience of the patient. This is compounded in the case of pediatric and geriatric patient groups.
The industry is growing but there are certain things, which need to be taken care. Counterfeits of packaging affect a brand as well as patients. A brand marketed in a particular category has a host of other brands mimicking its packaging format. This leads to major loss of revenues apart from danger to life of patients.
Product package compatibility is also a key thing that pharmaceutical companies must take care while packaging a drug. If the product has certain adverse effect due to the contact of packaging material, then the efficacy of the medicine is completely defeated.
Innovation in packaging is the need of the hour. Packaging now requires fulfilling its functional role and at the same time, be more patient friendly.
The packaging companies worldwide are actively exploring ways to develop nanotechnology-based materials. Some leading global companies have attempted to develop nanocomposite-based polymer films, bottles, coatings and inks. For instance, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc. (Mitsubishi) together with Nanocor Inc. (Nanocor), a subsidiary of AMCOL International Corporation, has developed nanoclay/ MXD6 nylon blend (nylon nanocomposite) for use as a barrier layer in multilayer PET bottles. It is also interesting to note that there are 250 nanopackaging-based products in the market. RFID is set to grow to $4.8bn (€3.8bn) in 2011 and reach $14.1bn in 2013, according to a recent report by research firm NanoMarkets.
The pharma packaging machinery industry has to cater to two sets of requirements one domestic pharma companies which wants high output, simple machines having low cost, low maintenance and high output. Secondly, export oriented units requiring a higher level of sophistication with a high level of automation, reliability and quick change over time. The machines should be suitable for both short and long runs, and should be able to handle different designs of packaging to meet requirements of specific countries. Validation documentation support is a must-have feature. The aesthetics factor also comes into play.
In India, bulk packaging is primarily in the small scale sector, mainly on account of the Government’s reservation policy for the SSI sector. In the packaging sector, there are very few foreign firms operating in India on a JV basis or as subsidiaries. The domestic packaging machinery industry is finding it a challenge to meet the requirements of the export oriented segment since the industry, barring few companies, is still not 100% geared up. Therefore, the pharma industry has to import packaging machines from Europe, USA and Korea. Trained manpower is not available and therefore the machines need to be easy-to-operate. Another feature of these machines is that they offer low wastage of packaging material, which reduces the cost of packaging
Major issues like increased counterfeiting plague the Indian pharma industry, drooping patient compliance, need for convenience, communication cost and stability of formulations. Major pharma brands suffer from problems of counterfeit/pass-off and compliance. Effective packaging can help patients get original medicines, desired response, and hence protects patients from these problems. Constant inclination for innovation, in the wake of crucial concerns like environmental factors, transportation and storage in drug packing industry is the need of the hour.