Clariant, a worldwide specialty chemicals producer, and SICPA SA, a provider of global security solutions, have joined forces to develop and launch PLASTIWARD™, a robust integrated protection solution for plastic medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging.
Steve Duckworth, Head of Global Segment Healthcare Polymer Solutions, notes that a World Health Organization report indicates that more than 8% of the medical devices in circulation are counterfeit, and that Interpol estimates US$75 billion in counterfeit pharmaceuticals enter the market every year. “Clearly, counterfeit medical devices pose a significant liability to their manufacturers and healthcare providers, and a risk of injury, permanent disability or even death to patients. The mission of safe access to treatments remains a challenge to medical devices and pharmaceutical companies despite investments in fighting fakes. As it is well accepted that layers of security features are necessary, the unique features of PLASTIWARD can help reinforce this approach.”
“The counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products, including medical devices, is a silent and deadly epidemic. It attacks strong pharmaceutical brands, while sapping the trust of patients and doctors. It poses a risk for all of us,” says Fabienne Le Tadic, Executive President of Product and Brand Protection at SICPA. “As part of our commitment to make this world a safer place, we partnered with Clariant, a leader in polymers and masterbatches, to create PLASTIWARD. This in-plastic brand protection solution helps pharma and medical device companies to protect their patients and brands.”
The system works like this: a proprietary covert taggant, produced by SICPA, is delivered to one of Clariant’s ISO13485-certified plants where MEVOPUR® brand Controlled, Consistent and Compliant materials are produced. There, the taggant is incorporated into the various polymers used in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging, either in a concentrated masterbatch form, or as a finished polymer compound. The taggant then becomes part of the eventual plastic product, where it is readily detectable using SICPA’s deployment and monitoring platform.
Once the tagged product enters the distribution stream, the SICPA monitoring system identifies them at any point from factory to pharmacy. Products can be instantaneously authenticated at any point using a handheld detector. That data gets uploaded and aggregated on a secure inspection platform from SICPA that facilitates real-time monitoring at global, regional or local levels so that action can be taken quickly if necessary.
“PLASTIWARD offers medical-device and pharmaceutical-packaging companies a two-in-one approach,” says Duckworth. “It combines Clariant’s track record in developing polymer compounds and masterbatches tailored to the unique requirements of clients in those sectors, with SICPA’s expertise in protecting brands and products. PLASTIWARD offers clients one seamless package comprising: security assessment, definition of their needs, security system design, system deployment and on-going performance monitoring.”
Brand protection needs
Today, chronic health conditions ranging from diabetes to asthma make use of portable plastic pharmaceutical packaging such as insulin pens or inhalers for targeted delivery of a treatment. Such medical devices enable millions of patients to lead active lives. An aging population in developed economies and a rising middle class in developing economies will drive demand for pharma innovation in the foreseeable future. This, in turn, will drive growth in pharmaceutical packaging and plastic medical devices.
The “Global Pharmaceutical Packaging Market: Forecasts till 2020,” report MarketsandMarkets 2016 projects a CAGR of 6.5% for the global medical devices market from 2014 to 2020, rising from an estimated US$61 billion in 2014 to US$89 billion in 2020.
However, this strong growth has also attracted counterfeiters who are often part of organized crime syndicates producing fakes that are often very difficult to differentiate from legitimate products, often escaping customs inspections. Such products represent a financial and reputational liability for legitimate companies, and they pose a health risk for the patients who rely on them to manage a life-threatening condition.
“Pharmaceutical companies have taken steps to reduce this risk. But the rise of e-commerce and access to new technologies has accelerated counterfeiting and other forms of illicit trade. That makes fighting counterfeit medical products an ever-more urgent priority for pharma companies—both in terms of patient safety and brand reputation,” says Yann Ischi, Director of New Channels and Partnerships at SICPA. “In the fight against the counterfeiting epidemic, we have to stay ahead through innovation. For plastic medical devices, SICPA combined innovation expertise with Clariant to develop PLASTIWARD, so that our clients can focus on the needs of their patients and doctors.”