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The pharma packaging equipment market is on a growth curve, spurred by the need to comply with stringent global regulations and counter the threat of counterfeit medicines

The global emphasis on the implementation of traceability solutions to reduce counterfeiting of pharma products has led to the growth of pharma packaging equipment market as well. Most of the countries are planning to make serialisation mandatory. For instance, the US is set to implement Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) by November 27, 2018. Likewise, the Falsified Medicines Directive (Delegated Act 2016/161) requires all packaging in the pharma sector in the EU to bear an  individual serial number by February. 2019. The implementation of serialisation globally has created opportunities as well as challenges for the pharma packaging industry. As the fourth largest manufacturer of medicines in the world, India too has to meet the growing demand for medications and to deliver them in safe, patient-centric ways that meet the needs of the various populations they serve. As a leading exporter of generic medicines, India has to comply with global regulations. Hence, pharma companies need partners who can offer innovative packaging solutions that cater to changing requirements globally.

A flourishing segment

The growing demand for pharmaceuticals coupled with increased emphasis on product packaging is expected to drive the global pharma packaging market to reach $158.8 billion by 2025 from $77.65 billion in 2016, according to a new report by Grand View Research.

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Shaunak J Dave

Highlighting the huge growth potential of the pharma packaging market, Shaunak J Dave, MD and CEO, Optel Group, India, VP – Asia says, “Pharma packaging market volume is expected to grow at $90 billion globally, registering a growth rate of eight per cent, with the US, Western Europe and Japan contributing to 60 per cent of this market. Asia Pacific region is expected to reach 33 per cent in 2025 due to the growing demand of pharma and presence of large number of plastic and other packaging raw material manufacturers.”

He further points out that the growth of the pharma industry offers a big opportunity to the Indian pharma packaging market as well. It is estimated that pharma packaging industry in India will be worth of $2.6 billion by 2020.

Pharma packaging equipment market: Opportunities and challenges

This, in turn, has also opened up growth avenues for the pharma packaging equipment market. As per a MarketsandMarkets report, the global pharma packaging equipment market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent from 2017 to 2022 to reach $8.24 billion approximately by 2022. It states, “The growth of the market can be attributed to factors such as cost containment in pharma R&D, growth in funding for generics and biopharma research, and technological advancements in labelling and serialisations solutions. The development of production lines for small batch size and research purposes, growing focus of pharma manufacturers to cut operational costs, and rising emphasis on labelling and serialisation for anti-counterfeiting of drugs are the key trends in the market.”

Counterfeit pharma products are a major threat to the pharma industry’s progress, as global pharma counterfeit industry is estimated at $75 to $200 billion (which is 8 per cent to 15 per cent of total world’s pharma products). Innovative secured packaging material (covert/ overt features) and an efficient packaging process shall help to minimise the problem along with serialisation, authentication and tamper evident compliances.

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Therefore, as Dave points out, it is a big opportunity for pharma packaging sector as 80 per cent of all drug packaging units are to be serialised worldwide over the next seven years. In 2016 and 2017, the biggest noticeable trend observed by industry experts is impact of ‘Global Track and Trace i.e. Serialisation and Tamper Evident Regulations.’ This subject has attracted industry’s attention at every recent global packaging event.

Similarly, rising incidence of diseases, and innovations in drug delivery techniques  are some of the other factors driving the growth for global pharma packaging equipment market.

In addition, increasing generic and contract manufacturing activities are expected to drive the market for pharma packaging equipment in Asian countries, especially in India and China.

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Sunil Nirmale

“Companies involved in pharma packaging have been involved in saving operational cost. In addition, rising number of mergers and acquisitions, new product launches and an increasing number of collaborations and partnerships are some of the trends that have been observed in global pharma packaging equipment market,” informs Sunil Nirmale – Domestic Sales, ACG Engineering Business.

An urgent need

Thus, the growth potential in this segment is immense. However, the players need to be geared to leverage the opportunities effectively.

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Rahul Dev

As Rahul Dev, VP, Datwyler India points out, “The pharma and healthcare market is continuously confronted with changes and challenges, which are directly linked to the changing needs of state-of-the-art healthcare. It is important to combine global knowledge and local manufacturing expertise to leverage lean production processes and build on an optimised supply chain. ” Pharma packaging can be a vital element is ensuring an effective supply system.

To provide safety and quality of packaging for pharma products and comply with global norms, pharma packaging equipment nowadays have to be automated and integrated. At the same time, flexibility in packaging lines and process is also important.

“Due to non-uniformity of various serialisation regulations, packaging lines and machinery need to be flexible enough to meet those regulations and it poses significant challenges for India, being a global manufacturing hub of generics. Everywhere else in the world, the manufacturing scenario is being changed from dedicated packaging lines which required less changeover to flexible packaging lines with frequent change over. This change is to respond to diverse market demands in a quicker way. Industry 4.0 and integrated supply chain will drive the packaging technology and processes in near future,” informs Dave.

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Ajay Mehra

Speaking on the challenges faced by the equipment manufacturers, Ajay Mehra, Director, ACE Technologies says, “Many companies are suffering from data management issues which are getting more and more complex and not easy to manage by humans only, hence a growth of the automation in the packaging industry is foreseen in our industry. He further said, “The challenges being faced by the manufacturers is the lack of clear understanding of the parameters that need to be captured to make the software self reliant. As usual though we have the technical capability we always follow the innovators and limit our development to the technology available with the market leaders only.”

KD Datar, Director, Technolutions Projects also opines that the packaging industry requires understanding of handling potent/ toxic products and providing assured containment system. With the change in the regulations it is also important that data integrity, especially for the detection/rejection systems are used.

What does the future behold?

The pharma packaging equipment market is expected to grow sizeably. However, the focus will be towards accelerated adoption of packaging technology, advanced systems for key functions such as checking/ coding, tracking etc.

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KD Datar

Datar is of view that new packaging components and systems; automation with focus on detections/ tracking; advanced systems for packaging materials; flexibility of handling various types of materials and more importantly, medium to high and very high speed compatibility and packaging machines for handling potent/ toxic products will be the future trends in pharma packaging equipment.

Reiterating this, Mehra says, “The stringent tracking norms of the pharma industry globally is a sign to move towards automation of packaging lines. Earlier, the primary packaging industry was moving fast and now even the secondary packaging equipment are being upgraded to meet international standards.”

Dave mentions that technologies such as direct printing of 2D data matrix code or human readable on tablet/ capsules by laser and serialisation of primary packaging like vials and primary unit dosage (blister pocket) is gaining popularity in advanced countries.

Nirmale states, “Manufacturers are continuously challenged to increase output and improve efficiency, as well as inspection accuracy, placing their main focus on fully automated solutions. Large-scale production of generics will increasingly be relocated to the emerging markets, calling for durable and highly productive machines. To maintain and improve a plant’s overall equipment effectiveness, aftermarket services are becoming more and more important. A processing and packaging specialist who wants to keep pace with the industry needs to offer comprehensive consulting services all over the globe.”

Fortunately, the players have taken note of the opportunities and is geared to optimise them.

Mehra informs, “Labelling challenges, along with serialisation are the demand for the future of innovative pharma packaging equipment and Ace Technologies have tied up with companies like Sea Vision who are one of the pioneers of serialisation and have now set their eyes on the Indian market. As the company deals with the global leaders of packaging both in terms of primary packaging and secondary packaging. It has the full range of equipment to offer the latest trends in the field of packaging under one roof.”

Similarly, the Optel Group  is serving the global pharma industry with its sophisticated vision and high speed image processing technology to check product, packaging and printing integrity on the pharma packaging containers. Dave says, “Since 2004, it offers track and trace solutions globally and has achieved number one position with 25.7 per cent  global market share according to MarketsandMarkets’ recently published survey.”

Thus, the packaging equipment industry is on a growth trajectory.

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