But while RFID is emerging as an important new technology for use in supply chain management, the initial trials of IPP are focused more on the problem of making sure that patients comply with their medication.
Two medication compliance trials are being conducted on IPP. The first trial, with 200 patients, is being performed by University of Lund in Sweden, in conjunction with a health care company, where 1,200 IPP packs are bring used.
A spokeswoman for the company told In-Pharmatechnologist.com that patient recruitment difficulties had delayed the trials, but the data so far are encouraging. Around 50 patients have been enrolled so far in the study, which is looking at compliance with cholesterol-lowering medications, so it may be another couple of months before the data is available.
A second trial, which will also make use of the technology to set out an on-pack questionnaire, is also planned and should start shortly.
The IPP system looks like a standard blister pack, but has a microelectronic sensor within the pack's paper board that records and time stamps every time a medicine is pushed out of the packaging. The data is stored within the pack and can be read by placing it on a scanner device that is compatible with a PC, allowing the patient's doctor to monitor drug usage.
The microelectronics within the pack include a piezoelectric signal generator which can be used to generate reminders for patients when it is time to take another dose. The technology, based on conductive ink, also allows patient questionnaires to be incorporated into the packaging. The user simply presses on the pack to register a response.
An integrated temperature sensor is also present to warn of the possible decline in the medicine's activity should storage recommendations not followed, a feature that may be particularly useful for medicines that require refrigeration. The packaging can be adapted to work with any standard blister packaging for tablets, ampoules, syringes etc.
Cypak has licensed sole rights to its IPP system to MeadWestvaco, one of the largest companies in this sector in the world, in the Americas, as well as non-exclusive rights outside this region. It is about to undergo trials in the US, involving around five international pharmaceutical companies.
Outside of the clinical trial setting, one company is interested in using the IPP system as an integral part of the packaging for an already-marketed product. Although the identity of the company has not been divulged, the firm is considering using IPP for a drug used in transplantation.
Transplant drugs can be very expensive, and compliance with medication regimens is critical if the transplanted organ - and the patient - are to survive in the long-term.
Meanwhile, while Cypak is initially focusing on the compliance applications of its technology, it is also interested in developing it for supply chain and anti-counterfeiting applications.