World pharma packaging set for solid growth

By Anna Lewcock

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pharmaceutical packaging, Pharmacology

Worldwide demand for pharmaceutical packaging is set to grow
steadily over the coming years growing to over $30bn (€21.7bn) by
2011, according to a new report published this week.

Increasingly sophisticated drug products and more stringent government requirements are driving developments in some forms of pharmaceutical packaging, with emerging markets also set to become more prominent players on the packaging stage. The new report, published by The Freedonia Group, notes that the developed countries of Western Europe, the US and Japan will continue to account for 75 per cent of the market, forecast to hit $34bn by 2011 and $45bn by 2016. However, China - despite recent concerns regarding product safety and quality standards - will provide the strongest growth opportunities, according to the report's authors. Rapidly expanding manufacturing capabilities prompted by the increased interest in such low-cost manufacturing destinations, coupled with an extensive government programme to improve the quality of the medicines produced in the country are the driving factors for the region's favourable outlook. A similar pattern is likely to develop in India and Brazil, according to the report, as these countries also upgrade their drug-producing capabilities, particularly in the area of generic ethical drugs. The US, unsurprisingly, is set to remain the largest consumer of pharmaceutical packaging over the coming years. The region's advanced drug sector is gradually introducing more and more sophisticated therapies with specialised packaging needs, driving innovation and high packaging standards. In Western Europe, demand will be driven by upgraded government standards requiring unit dose, high-barrier and anti-counterfeit packaging for many types of medication, say the report authors. The pharmaceutical packaging market in Japan is also due to experience healthy growth as a result of more relaxed price controls and improved export market penetration. World demand for primary packaging containers will see a 6.5 per cent increase annually through to 2011, to nearly $24bn ($32bn by 2016), according to report figures. This will largely be driven by prefillable inhalers and prefillable syringes, based on performance advantages in drug delivery and the introduction of new bioengineered medicines. Blister packaging is expected to continue its favourable growth rate, driven by its adaptability to unit dose, clinical trial and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs among others. Blister packaging will also benefit from advances in equipment, with improved changeover features of processing machinery making blisters more cost-efficient in small-volume drug applications, according to the report authors. Packaging solutions likely to see a more restrained demand include IV containers, vials and ampoules, glass bottles and jars, and aerosol cans, caused by shortcomings in performance compared to other alternative container options. Primary closures are expected to grow at a slightly lower rate, with demand increasing at 4.5 per cent annually to $10.6bn by 2011 ($13.2bn by 2016). The closures market is likely to see an increased focus on tamper-evident and anti-counterfeiting accessories, which will see the fastest gains, but also continued interest in child-resistant and senior-friendly solutions. Again, stricter industry and government standards will help drive demand for these products, with emphasis on safety, security and ease of use. There are currently around 2,000 companies in the pharmaceutical packaging business around the world. 28 per cent of the 2006 market was held by just eight of these companies: MeadWestvaco, Amcor, Owens-Illinois, Cardinal Health Pharmaceutical Technologies and Services, Becton Dickinson, Gerresheimer Holdings, Alcan and Schott. However, 2007 is likely to see the landscape shift due to changes with some of these major players, including the divestiture of Cardinal Health's PTS unit and its relaunch as Catalent, and the sale of Owens-Illinois plastics packaging business to Rexam earlier this year.

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