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Repackaging 'releevs' theft woes

Merix Pharmaceutical Corp. switched its retail packaging for Releev 1 Day Cold Sore Symptom Treatment to the BlisterGuard security package from Colbert Packaging to thwart tampering and pilferage and meet retailer demands. This new format introduced last September is now used nationwide at Walgreens and Kmart stores, with expanded retail distribution planned throughout 2007.

Barrington, IL-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Merix was asked by the two retail chains to provide better pilfer-resistant packaging because of theft issues regarding the $19.95 medication that relieves the symptoms of cold sores in a day.

"Releev comes in a tube that can easily fit into someone's pocket or purse if the outer package is breached." says Dori Squires, vice president of Merix. "Therefore we moved forward with the plan to improve tamper-resistance to our product packaging." Containing 6 cc of product, the round tube made of low-density polyethylene is hidden behind a printed, folded card inside the thermoform.

The prior packaging had been a five-panel carton. Initially, Merix looked at a plastic clamshell as the alternative. "However, we didn't like the look of the package or the environmental and recyclability issues plastic clamshell packaging creates," says Squires. "We also lost much of our package facing due to the flange required for the clamshell. It didn't provide the printing surface for compelling graphics and brand identity."

Package specifics

BlisterGuard comprises Everest Safe-Pak fold-over 16-pt SBS blister board from International Paper. Everest Safe-Pak is a heat-sealable, tear-resistant bleached paperboard laminated with a high-strength Valéron Strength Film from Valeron Strength Films , an ITW Co. The 3-mil cross-laminated high-density polyethylene film makes BlisterGuard virtually tear-proof. Colbert prints BlisterGuard in five colors via offset.

A PVC thermoform and an Electronic Article Surveillance device are trapped between the folded, laminated material before it is heat-sealed. The pack also has a tear-resistant hanger hole.

Says Squires, "When Colbert came to us with the BlisterGuard option, we liked the durability of the package; the larger print area, which enables more compelling graphics for greater shelf appeal; the fact that it is paper-based and more environmentally friendly than the plastic clamshell; and that it has a fresh, different look. The brokers and buyers really liked the look of the new package and were thrilled with the tamper-resistant quality. To top it off, we were pleasantly surprised that BlisterGuard was less costly than the plastic clamshell."

Colbert not only prints and converts the package, its Just Pack It packaging facility in Indiana handles the pack out.

"While official reporting on lost-product results from the retail stores is still about a month away, initial feedback from our retail customers has been highly positive," says Squires. "It appears the new Releev packaging is already relieving pilferage." She says the PVC thermoform will be changed to recycled PET (RPET) this summer.

--By Rick Lingle, Technical Editor, Packaging World
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