Packaging and crisis management

"The recent recall of the popular drug Vioxx is an example of how a company can respond to crises in an organized and responsible fashion," says Rogelio Rodriguez, director of Engineering and Science Programs for the University of California-Irvine Extension. "Now, more than ever, companies are realizing the value of having a long-term crisis management plan in place." Does packaging fit into that plan? Yes, says Rodriguez, recollecting the Tylenol poisoning of the 1980s. "How you package, label, and comply with the Food and Drug Administration's regulations," he lists as examples. Recent regulatory and marketing changes in the life sciences industry prompted the UC-Irvine Extension to begin a two-day class called Medical Product Crisis Management, aimed at providing professionals in the medical industry with guidelines on how to develop an effective crisis management plan. The first course was held in late August. Rodriguez expects the class to be offered twice a year; the next time in January. Medical Product Crisis Management is an elective course that's part of the Extension's Medical Product Development Certificate Program.

The August course instructor was Craig Smith, director of marketing and business development for Trimedyne, Inc., an Irvine, CA-based manufacturer of lasers and disposable fiber-optic delivery devices used in various surgical applications. "Improved packaging can be promoted as a benefit to a clinical customer or patient," says Smith. He suggests companies "retain close communication with those responsible for the final packaging of the medical device or pharmaceutical product. I think [implementing] some of the new technologies like RFID [will be important] for tracking products to know where they're going, and determining their validity or potential contamination or counterfeit nature." For more information on the new UC-Irvine course, and the overall program, visit www.extension.uci.edu.

--By Jim Butschli, Editor
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