Justin Schroeder from outsourcer PCI Pharma Services, told us ensuring that packaging is effective and patient centric requires addressing several factors, such as product protection and safety. This includes finding a balance between child resistant and senior friendly requirements, and defining effective instructions for use.
“Patient populations and their disease state characteristics may vary quite significantly from one medicine to the next, or potentially for different patient segments for the same drug,” said Schroeder.
“In some instances, these needs for effective packaging may create scenarios where goals can seem to conflict and require very intensive and resource intensive efforts to drive to an effective packaging strategy and implementation.”
The process of developing effective packaging is often iterative, according to Schroeder, who said it’s akin to the Plan/Do/Check/Act (PDCA) cycle in Lean Six Sigma disciplines.
“Effective design processes involve developing, refining, [and] testing with stakeholders and patients, and then acting upon the feedback to reinitiate the cycle,” he explained, adding that this approach drives successful outcomes with “a measured approach to development.”
“Companies who are successful in their approach respect packaging not as an afterthought, but for packaging’s function as the primary vehicle to delivering effective therapy to the patient,” said Schroeder.
Not committing the appropriate resources to the drug packaging development processes can have “disastrous results” and a significant impact to a medication’s success in the market.
Schroeder said, “Poorly designed packaging can frustrate patients and lead to poor adherence, or worse patient dropoff, and in extreme circumstances has been reported to cause harm and hospitalization.”
Conversely, studies demonstrate effective packaging creates a positive patient experience, which Schroeder explained leads to better education and comprehension, more effective drug delivery, improved patient compliance and persistence, and ultimately drives improved health outcomes.
The key to achieving these outcomes is to engage both patients and stakeholders.
Schroeder suggested using forums such as human factors studies, label comprehension studies, disease state specific patient pools of market research, and leveraging senior friendly testing.
“This engagement can and often should include engaging pharmacists, doctors, nurses and related healthcare professionals, in addition to representative patients to gain comprehensive insights to ensure success,” he added.
Feedback should capture how the drug is administered while addressing the specific nuances of the disease state, as well as environmental factors and patient needs.
“Taking the time to appropriately establish timelines and development resources, gathering a comprehensive approach to gathering feedback, and acting upon that invaluable feedback are the keys to ensure successful health outcomes for patients,” said Schroeder.
“When done correctly, packaging is instrumental in creating safe and effective health solutions.”