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Smart packaging – an easy solution for poor patient compliance?

By Sabrina Heinzmann, PA life sciences expert and saba tahseen, PA life sciences expert

Did you know that more than 50% of patients suffering from chronic illness don’t take their medication as prescribed? And what’s more, poor compliance leads to 10% of hospital admissions in the US, 125,000 deaths annually and 30-50% of treatment failures. It’s then no wonder that patients’ adherence to treatment is one of the main issues affecting patient outcomes and that pharmaceuticals and healthcare systems are embracing integrated healthcare solutions and new technologies.

But despite smart packaging holding great potential to improve patient compliance, these technologies –  which essentially convert normal packaging into intelligent systems – still show poor market adoption and low levels of interest from industry leaders. Why is this?

We believe it’s down to smart packaging’s poor incentive structure. Currently, pharmaceuticals’ business models and the high costs associated with the technology dampen interest – in turn reducing their profit margins. And what’s more, the patients are not offered the right incentives to adopt these technologies.

So what can be done?

From our conversations with industry experts, and insights taken from the Interphex pharmaceutical packaging conference, we concluded that using smart packaging during clinical trials is the answer. Not only will this improve participant adherence during the trials, but also enable significant cost savings in terms of patient recruitment and accurate data production. Using smart packaging in clinical trials can also increase commercial application, in turn adding value to stakeholders, patients and pharmaceutical companies.

But what types of smart packaging are best?

We took a look at the smart pill bottles and smart blister market to see what types of products are currently available. Smart pill bottles, such as the uBox, improve medication adherence by reminding patients when a dose is due, recording when medication is dispensed, limiting inappropriate access and sending alerts in real time. And these bottles account for roughly 60% of the smart packaging market. Smart blisters, such as the Helping-Hand blister sleeve, which measures dosing patterns, make up the remaining 40%. And this is despite the latter being more mature in terms of the variety of features and technical design.

This leads us to believe that pharmaceuticals see smart bottles as the more attractive option due to their greater functional versatility and the less complex technical design. And by using these smart bottles within clinical trials, companies could begin to tackle the poor patient compliance challenge. 

Find out more about our work in life sciences.

Contact the life sciences team

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