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News February 4, 2011

Job One

Maintain focus on processing and packaging functions.

My local newspaper recently began running a little “call-to-action” piece asking readers to let the paper know if they've recently found a new job. Presumably, forthcoming editorial coverage will detail how these new jobs have changed people's lives.
In recent months, there has been some positive economic news, but a 9.4% nationwide unemployment rate leaves room for improvement.

A key concern: Could job cuts in the pharmaceutical industry negatively impact processing and packaging practices?

A recent article from The Economist's Intelligence Unit, for example, reported that Roche and Bayer were slashing thousands of jobs globally.

It's unclear if such job cuts reach packaging staff at pharmaceutical companies, but one Packaging Hall of Fame veteran expressed concern to this editor that cutbacks could potentially affect packaging development (both new packages and packaging procedures), and operations (upgrades, safety, efficacy, recalls, etc.). The expert wondered if some of Johnson & Johnson's problems could be traced to packaging and labeling errors resulting from job cutbacks.

A recent Wall Street Journal online article noted, “Johnson & Johnson, which has been recalling a number of popular over-the-counter medicines, said it is withdrawing more Tylenol because of a labeling problem.”

The article did point out that the labeling problem “doesn't threaten the health of consumers, who don't need to take action and can continue to take the product.” An unnamed contract manufacturer was said to have made the recalled products, according to the article.

Patent expirations, formidable competition, economic factors, and regulatory compliance present daunting challenges for pharmaceutical manufacturers. But make no mistake, cutbacks in processing and packaging that could lessen product quality would be a mistake that could have serious financial implications.

-Jim Butschli, Editor

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