What Are The Benefits Of Smart Packaging In The Pharma Sector?

Much has been written about the benefits of smart packaging for the pharmaceutical sector.  The introduction of smart packaging technologies is regarded as another step in safeguarding the security of medicinal products and devices.  Below, we look at smart packaging and consider the benefits that it might bring to our sector. 

What is Smart Packaging?

Put simply, smart packaging is packaging that communicates with the outside world using different types of technologies such as:

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that is used in car keys, toll tags, security access cards- it uses radio waves to identify people or objects. The technology is known since 1970s.

Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology available (albeit initially on a limited basis) since the early 2000s, used in access identification cards or in contactless payments.

Instead of using wires, the electronic circuits can be printed onto the packaging by using conductive inks.


What are the benefits of the Smart Packaging in the Pharma Sector?


  • Preventing medication non-adherence (not taking the drugs as prescribed) which is a huge issue (125,000 of premature deaths in US alone). According to a WHO report (2003) adherence rates in developed countries are 50 %. The key reason for non-adherence is forgetfulness- the smart packaging can help us to remember when and how much of medicine we need to take with a help of the smartphones.
  • Feeding information to the doctor as part of a comprehensive healthcare management system. Whenever the tablet is taken from its packaging, sensors build into the packaging recognizes the difference in weight; the signal is sent to the chip where the details of the date, time and place of the breakage are kept. When the chip is scanned with a smartphone the information is sent to the cloud for a doctor to review.
  • Helping short-sighted/blind people- when scanned the smartphone would read the leaflet to them or present the text in large font for them.
  • Helping in recording the data of the real history of how the drug was transported. The record would show what conditions (temperature, humidity) were during the shipment and also what was the duration of the drug transport.
  • Improving Clinical Trials by providing solution for ‘false negatives’ by volunteers taking the drugs in a timely manner.
  • Could greatly improve the prescription of medicines in pharmacies and surgeries.
  • Providing details and validation around anti-counterfeiting, product tampering
  • Tracking product in case of a theft
  • Stock control

Examples of Ongoing Smart Packaging Programmes:

  • REMEDIES Project that is headed up by GlaxoSmithKline and research is led by the University of Cambridge.
  • Project between Centre for Process innovation (CPI), Crown Packaging, and Brunel University.
  • Project SCOPE led by CPI, Unilever, Hasbro, Crown Packaging and Pragmatic Printing

The capacity for RFID and Near Field Communication to have a positive impact on the pharma sector is immense.  The development of both technologies stands to benefit manufacturers, commercial operations and patients as their use becomes more prevalent.

If you would like to have an initial chat with us about issues related to smart packaging and the regulatory aspects of this, then contact us by using the form below or call us in Ireland on 00353 52 61 76 706.