If someone wants to respond on the said topic, a one word answer is BRIGHT. Hope you are not surprised. Why it should not be?
In most of the documents you must have seen the growth factor of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry. Year on year, it has maintained 10+ figure. 

Even in rough weathers the industry has not collapsed. If the Pharmaceutical industry is growing, why Pharma Packaging will not trend?
We have always learnt as a part of definition of packaging, that it contains and protects and sells etc etc. If the product has to survive, the packaging has to survive and if CAGR is seen in a product, mind well the PACKAGING industry has to grow.

Apart from its basic function, as per the definition of Packaging, in addition,  the pharma packaging, in recent years have shown few major attributes and has helped the product to sell and more over it has helped to comply the requirements.

If one can see the regulations or the requirements put forth by the regulatory agencies more than product per se, it was more focused on labeling or packaging and may be some related to documentation.
The Packaging industry whether it is for primary components or labeling or up to logistics, have played an important role in compliance. The latest trend of patient centric approach has more to do with packaging than the product.  The smart packages developed for ease of operation and for patient convenience, are example of how the packaging is evolving.

Taking this advantage of diversity in packaging material, smartness, I am sure the upcoming improvements based on Artificial Intelligence will be more focused towards packaging than the product itself. The newer standards of Industry 4.0 will have an impact  on improving Packaging material quality to support automation. As such Automation, return on total investment (ROTI ) and optimized machine operation will have an impact on material quality. To have better mileage  we may have to spend a penny extra on material which may have an issue for costing / purchase teams, but operational cost has to be given advantage.

When we talk of connected packaging between Brand Protection and consumer insight, we need to look at how this smart or connected packaging will enhance the supply chain security and maintain critical product data and explore possibility of anti counterfeiting.

The latest requirement of sterilization or Track and Trace, world wide was well accepted and Pharma Packaging has done tremendous make over to adopt to these requirements whether it is for change in artworks, makeover of packing lines, setting of new hard wares etc.. Going forward few more elements might be included in a existing 2D barcode. We may have to even work out on combining perfect digital identity with authenticated physical identity to have a perfect and robust supply chain.

Next challenge to pharma packaging can be gelling with e-commerce or more precisely e-pharmacies and it’s challanges. This business is expected to grow to US$ 2.7 billion by 2023

With entry of new products like Biologics, gene therapy, cell therapy with different profile of volumes and value, it’s manufacturing and distribution networks, need to look at what system we have in place today and how better we can make it for tomorrow.

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About the author

Mr. Ajay Bapat

Mr. Ajay Bapat, a veteran in Indian Pharma Packaging industry with an experience of almost 34 years in all aspects of packaging and is now an independent pharma packaging consultant. He has worked in various leading pharmaceutical companies and is an regular faculty at various conferences dealing with Packaging. He has also been a jury member for Printweek's  awards event from couple of years.

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