Printed electronics in medicines packaging will help patients and supply chain

A consortium of drugs manufacturers, universities, and institutions are using emerging technologies in processing and packaging to secure the UK’s future in the pharmaceuticals industry

A number of British drugs companies are to join a consortium with the Centre for Process Innovation, which is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and the Institute of Manufacturing at Cambridge University to investigate ways of introducing ‘smartness’ into pharmaceutical packaging.

Using technologies such as printed electronics, project REMEDIES aims to unlock advantages for patients and the supply chain.

REMEDIES is a project with a wide scope, looking at ways of using emerging technologies to address inefficiencies in the supply chain, from ingredient manufacturers all the way up to pharmacists.

The project is focusing on five technology areas: active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing, primary-to-secondary manufacturing, super-critical fluid technology, agile packaging, and printed electronics.

The consortium members – including the University of Strathclyde, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, Cambridge Reactor Design and Robinson Brothers – are hoping the results of the project will help to safeguard the UK’s leading position in the pharmaceutical sector, which is a high-earning part of the manufacturing industry.

Using printed electronics in packaging could have a number of advantages, according to the CPI, which is coordinating this part of REMEDIES.

It can help to address problems of counterfeiting, product tampering, and provide information about whether the drug in within its expiry date for consumption; all of which are advantages to the patient and can help improve health outcomes.

Integrated with near-field communications technology and RFIDs, it can help inform clinicians, patients and their families that medicines are being taken on schedule, and also have uses within the manufacturing logistics and for stock control in factories, hospitals and pharmacies.

“The project supports growth in inward investment by creating a supply chain ecosystem that will not only result in high value UK manufacturing jobs for the UK but also reduce the cost of new drug development and current levels of inventory,” the CPI said.

CPI business manager Alan McLelland added: “Going forward, the key is to develop new innovative products and technologies to market volumes and price points that facilitate mass market adoption.”