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Achieving functionality economically

Respondents to a recent survey provide insights into the future of generic vs branded drug packaging. "'Cheapest first' will force drug companies to find ways for reducing cost of goods," said an employee of a pharmaceutical maker that also produces transdermal products. "Generic and branded products will begin to look much the same. Generics will not be so apt to follow the innovator. Big pharma will be forced to be more frugal." "Generic and branded is a balancing equation," said a respondent from a medical device maker. "Every packaging engineer out there [has] a goal to reduce package costs, but innovation pushes to make changes. It's a cycle." Costs were also on the mind of a nutraceutical company respondent, who said, "The conveying of information still needs to be as important. To keep the cost of generics down, packaging designs will have to become more clever at achieving function at a lower cost."

An opinion shared by many who took the survey was expressed by a solid-dose pharmaceutical maker representative who predicted, "Generics will be produced in standardized packaging in order to reduce costs. Branded pharmaceuticals will be packed in one esthetic design." Another respondent believed, "Most generics should be packaged in a similar manner to branded versions. Generic drugs require the same protection, label, and point-of-use characteristics."

The viewpoint of a professional with a company making both pharmaceuticals and medical devices was, "There will be little effect with generic drugs as the registration of the product relies on stability data directly related to the packaging integrity. Most will strive for internal efficiencies to make this area profitable. Secondary packaging and the supply of packaging aids with products may be targeted for small savings."

An interesting perspective came from a respondent from a pharmaceutical firm who noted, "Generics with a strong backing will try to stand apart in packaging, and not have a 'me-too' look
compared with the innovator. The market will surely see a lot of senior-friendly features incorporated into packs. In fact, the packaging features could be a selling point for the generic drug."

--By Jim Butschli, Editor
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