MeadWestvaco has joined forces with US communications specialist Confidant to combine their expertise and create new pharma packaging solutions to support patient compliance with prescription medications. Confidant's expertise lies in developing chronic disease management solutions that harness the power of the mobile phone to provide patients and providers with a simple, wireless way to track disease management data and general compliance. Confidant's patent-pending technology is currently used to collect information from a patient's home medical device through Bluetooth using a standard cell-phone, and then upload it to a centralized server. The data is then compared with the treatment regimen specified by the provider, and feedback is sent back to the patient's mobile phone in real time. Confidant's primary products currently target diabetes and obesity management, but the deal with MeadWestvaco is representative of the firm's moves to expand the reach of its novel technology into additional applications. Improving compliance is one of the pillars of pharmaceutical packaging design, along with child safety, senior-friendliness and tamper-resistance. Coming up with packaging solutions that offer advantages in these particular aspects is often a key aim of firms developing new packaging products. Following the success Confidant has had with its disease management solutions, particularly in the diabetes area, MeadWestvaco showed an interest in the technology and it applications in pulling information from 'smart' packaging solutions. MeadWestvaco is a well-known name in the design, manufacture and distribution of packaging solutions to the healthcare industry, as well as a number of other sectors. The company already has half a dozen packaging solutions designed to improve patient compliance, including one electronic product line, Cerepack. The 'smart' product integrates electronic components into unit-dose packaging, which accurately record the date and time each dose is taken. According to the company, this ability to track the removal of a specific tablet is a feature unique to Cerepack packaging. The product can also incorporate Quality of Life questionnaires, to record feedback from patients and log any side-effects and their time of onset. While the Cerepack data can be uploaded directly to a PC or Internet-based analysis software, wireless collection through Bluetooth-enabled technology such as that developed by Confidant would offer another more sophisticated option for MeadWestvaco clients. Data generated by the Confidant/MeadWestvaco technology could be used to help prove whether a specific packaging solution really does affect and potentially improve patient compliance. As such, a product that can demonstrate its superiority in this way could end up with a significant edge over its competitors, with physicians much more likely to prescribe a product that they believe their patients will take as prescribed. With drugs themselves becoming ever more sophisticated and complex, pharmaceutical packaging appears to be following close behind. The days of basic blister packs and pill bottles could perhaps be drawing to a close, with high-tech packaging solutions to protect the new generation of drug compounds and prevent their waste through non-compliance becoming ever more prominent on the market.