Direct to Consumer: Perfect Package - Pharmaceutical Executive


Direct to Consumer: Perfect Package
Packaging can strengthen brand identity and increase patient loyalty and compliance.

Pharmaceutical Executive


The package's design, in particular, can affect patience compliance. A recently released two-year study from Ohio State University's College of Pharmacy documented that packaging improvements resulted in better patient health outcomes, compliance, and a financial payoff with a greater likelihood that the patient would refill the prescription. The study found that patients taking blood-pressure medication delivered in blister packs had a more efficacious outcome, based on better compliance to the prescribed regime, than those that took loose pills. Forty-eight percent of patients using the blister-pack method of packaging had lowered blood pressure, while only 18 percent of those who took loose pills had this effect. Furthermore, 80 percent of patients refilled their blister-pack prescriptions on time, whereas only 66 percent of patients refilled their loose-pill prescriptions on time.

The benefit of the blister-packaging format is that it can easily be printed to provide specific time-of-day doses as well as day-by-day dates on the package. It can also include a placebo for days off medication. At its core, it's easy to use. Also, as the population ages, more and more consumers are taking multiple medications—typically up to as many as five prescription drugs per day. So simplifying what to take at what time, and on what day, reduces patient confusion.

While blister and dose packs aren't new, they've previously been confined to delivery of short-term medications and OTC (with birth control as a clear exception to the trend). The primary drivers behind loose packaging have been cost containment. While the cost differential varies widely by volume of the drug dispensed (as the set-up costs are amortized over the quantities produced), loose packaging is overall said to be more cost-effective. In addition, many manufacturing facilities for ethical drug production are presently set up with costly machinery that is tooled for bulk packaging.

Unit dosing also improves drug quality and potential outcomes. By reducing the number of steps involved in the creation and delivery of the medication, it creates less opportunity for either human or system error. Because unit packaging is created in a manufacturing facility, no counting or re-packaging is needed at a pharmacy—it goes straight to the consumer.

Sample-Pack Power

Physician sample packs could also benefit from packaging innovations. Accounting for an estimated 55 percent of pharmaceutical-marketing spending, according to IMS Health, sample packs are often in the form of unit dosing, boasting smaller quantities and detailed instructions, and more recently, quality-of-life questionnaires. These questionnaires provide patients a convenient, directive method for recording side effects and other responses to their medications. They can be mailed directly to the pharmaceutical manufacturer or given to a doctor.

Furthermore, IMS Health found that 25 percent of physicians say they will not prescribe medicine until they have received samples. Physicians have long regarded samples as an important part of patient service. Sample packs are yet another opportunity to brand and simultaneously increase physician and patient loyalty.


Amie Casson
KV Pharmaceutical Company selected Vitaflo Scandinavia AB to market two new women's health products. • Access Communications Inc.will market Pfizer's Lyrica to Fortune 500 companies and labor unions. • Bard Advertising was named the agency of record for GT Urological. • Clearant, a biotech company in Los Angeles selected EPIC Brand Communications as its agency of record for the Clearant Process. • Media Research Planning and Placement is the agency of record for the Cancer Centers of North Carolina. • Publicis Groupe acquired a 50-percent stake in Freud Communications.


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