Archive for December, 2009

Patient Compliance – The Achilles Heel of Healthcare – Technology Breakthrough

Posted in Design, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology, Uncategorized on December 18th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 13 Comments

Below is a really interesting technological packaging advancement that is truly exciting and could have major benefits in the healthcare and pharma packaging & clinical trials sectors. Design Cognition also believe that this technology has further application in other dosage forms and sectors and is working with DSM TCG & GP Solutions (UK) Ltd to develop the OtCMâ„¢ and Dose Guardâ„¢ technologies in innovative ways to meet the demands of end-users and industry and bring this product to market in a viable & cost-effective manner.

Please contact me ( if you’d like more information or come and visit us at Packaging Innovations at the NEC, Birmingham UK on 24th or 25th Feb (stand 582), where we can discuss in more detail. You can register HERE.  Chris Penfold

When was the last time you forgot to take your medication? Odds are that it was within the last week. This makes you part of the millions of patients who don’t take their medications as prescribed by their physician. Medication non-adherence, or mal-compliance, as it is commonly called, is a problem that disrupts the healthcare system in many ways. If you don’t take your medication odds are that you won’t get the full benefit of the treatment. As former US surgeon general Dr. C. Everett Koop said, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them”. In the worst case, you could be among the patient population who are hospitalized as a result medication non-adherence. The cost to the healthcare system? Phenomenal! Mortality count? Sinister! Morbidity rates? Unacceptable!

At its root, this problem, like many, is a problem of human behaviour. Even Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the “Godfather of Medicine”, gave early warnings of the non-compliance issues to his students and colleagues. (”Keep watch for that fault in patients which makes them lie about the taking of things prescribed.”). Even though we are “creatures of habit”, we often lose momentum when taking medications, especially for chronic conditions.

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

There have been several attempts at using technology to influence compliance rates. As one scans the Web looking for potential help, some solutions that arise include:   (1) A variety of medication reminders that will beep, blip or blurt when it is time to take your medication. (2) A variety of devices that can track the number of times a medication dosage has been removed from a medication pack or a medication container (USA) that has been opened. The data collected can be downloaded at the doctor’s office or pharmacy to check compliance statistics. (3) A variety of devices that can remind the patient to take their medications and confirm that they have taken it by pressing a button to send the data.  (4) A miscellaneous group of reminder devices with alarms, like automated pill boxes or wrist watches.

OtCM™ -  Objective therapy Compliance Measurement.

One of the weaknesses of these approaches is that one can never guarantee that the patients have taken their medicine after an alarm. In fact, one can’t detect if the medication unit dosage has been taken, or if the medication unit dosage has even been taken at the right time.

A new technology has arrived that has the potential to dramatically impact the therapy compliance rates for individuals, particularly seniors, as they go about their daily lives. The name of this technology is OtCM™, Objective therapy Compliance Measurement, using the most recent RFID/NFC (Radio Frequency Identification, Near Field Communication) technology, including embedded sensor functionalities, and combined with printed organic electronics.  The OtCM™ application was invented by Jos Geboers and Willem Kort, who are working in the healthcare industry, especially in clinical pharmaceutical R&D, Health Economics, Outcomes Research and Patient Recorded Outcomes.  To that purpose Messrs. Geboers and Kort initiated the foundation of a consortium that includes all players, i.e. top listed pharmaceutical companies, medication packagers, health insurers and Royal DSM N.V.: “The Compliers Group” (DSM TCG).  DSM TCG wanted a way to be as certain as possible that patients were taking their medications at the correct frequency each day. They knew that, whatever solution they decided on, it needed to be “real time” since any delays in therapy could have serious health consequences. A novel system for measuring the time and quantity of drugs taken out of conventional, existing medication packaging or medication container, is used.  “Leading” versus “Bleeding” edge …

The existing medication package will do …

The system consists of conventional, existing medication blister pack (or “bottle”) of a given prescription drug furnished with “organic electronics” (circuitry, power supply), i.e. functional polymers and coatings, to print “the micromechatronic blister/bottle”. A “traditional” silicon RFID/NFC IC (Integrated Circuit) that has been especially designed for OtCM™ with integrated interfaces for i.e. clock and temperature functionality, provide the intelligence to identify data (date-time) of pills/capsules that have been taken out of the blister pack/bottle, whilst wireless Radio Frequency (RF) techniques (NFC, Near Field Communication) are able to transfer data wirelessly from the “OtCM™ enabled blister/bottle” onto DSM TCG’s webserver.

Driven by the intelligence of the RFID chip, embedded in the “mechatronic circuitry”, and the printed power supply (capacitator, battery), an electric current is circulating through the circuitry of the packaging at regular time intervals. As soon as a dosage is removed out of the packaging, the chip is activated. This information is stored. When in close proximity of a (NFC) reader,  the recorded information in the packaging will be transferred and stored in the server to populate the Therapy Compliance Database of active patients, under all regulatory recommended & required security and privacy conditions, locally and globally.

The standard existing medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!

The concept of using the technology of printing functional polymers and coatings is an innovative approach. A large variety of  applications in real-life situations has been brought about, especially for purposes of identification of products and, consequently, the packaging of products.  The standard medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!   Moreover, until now, traditionally available therapy compliance devices are extremely costly, even if mass-produced. Mass produced RFID-tags combined with polymer printing will introduce low-pricing schedules, based on factors of 90-95% reduction vs. currently available “traditional electronic” OCM devices, i.e. pill boxes or so-called “smart pill boxes”.

DSM TCG’s OtCM™ technology can be combined with GP Solutions (UK) Ltd’s patented and approved Dose Guard™ solution; a child resistant senior friendly secondary barrier that when applied to a blister pack will render it safe for use. Both “come with the standard, existing medication package”.  From surveys it has been identified that patients and health practitioners (physicians, medical specialists, pharmacists) only appreciate the enabling of OtCM™ right from the medication packaging. There obviously is no need for an additional, “stand-alone” therapy compliance measurement (recording) device separated from the medication package.

During OtCMâ„¢ we measure through the standard medication packaging:

(1) when the pill/capsule is taken,

(2) the location of the removed pill/capsule onto the blister packaging,

(3) the correct dosing schedule,

(4) an acoustic signal might prompt the for action,  data re: expiration date,

(5) production information re: temperature, batch IDs from the production line,  drug interaction alerts.

This real-time “interventional approach” is what stands apart from other compliance solutions.  In conclusion, it is clear that there are several technological approaches that are aimed squarely at the problem of medication compliance. Though these advances give our “inner geek” some encouragement, they are ultimately targeted at making sure that at-risk populations stay on track as they take medications to improve their health status. David Rosa, Willem Kort

You can find further information on compliance and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming compliance workshops – let us know.

Contact Chris Penfold (

Season’s greetings from the Design Cognition team

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 17th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

As 2009 draws to a close, we’d like to express our thanks and best wishes to all of our customers, suppliers and associates. Have a fantastic Christmas break and a happy & prosperous New Year and we look forward to doing further business with you all in 2010.

The Design Cognition team have put together the attached video production as a bit of light hearted seasonal frivolity.

We hope that you like it. :-)

Multisensoric trend key to confectionery packaging, claims German group

Posted in Design, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Product News, Retailers, Technology on December 17th, 2009 by Anne Dallison – 6 Comments

The use of Multisensoric for confectionery packaging on the increase

By Jane Byrne , 15-Dec-2009

Appealing to consumers’ five senses through innovative packaging techniques can result in increased brand loyalty and greater impact at point of sale, and it is a key driver in confectionery packaging, according to the organisers of the 2010 Pro Sweets trade show.

Multisensoric is an approach to packaging design that allows packaging to stimulate and arouse emotions in consumers to encourage purchase and examples include such elements as striking colour schemes, windows to view the product, exciting rustling sounds and foldout trays.

The Pro Sweets team said that, as a result, the confectionery industry is increasingly focused on touch, sight and sound finished packaging elements such as foil lamination, textured embossing, and varnishes.

via Multisensoric trend key to confectionery packaging, claims German group.

A promise for the New Year

Posted in Business News, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 16th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Sometimes it’s good to stand back and reflect on what we are all trying to achieve and the way in which we will achieve it. The following is relevant to you, whatever your colour, creed or religion.

As we begin the Holiday Season in preparation for the New Year, I would like to share with you “The Optimist’s Creed” I received from one of my LinkedIn connections, Al Bagocius. The link is @

It made me stop and think and I hope it will do the same for you. I considered it a gift, and I hope you will, too!

All the best to you and your families for a wonderful Holiday Season & a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Kind regards

Almost half of counterfeit buyers progress to real thing, says study

Posted in Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Marketing, Tweets on December 15th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 5 Comments

The following article provides a fascinating insight into the ‘placebo affect’ of counterfeit goods as a ‘taster’ for the ‘real thing’.It would be interesting to find out whether this affect is evident in the purchase & use of counterfeit packaged goods. I should imagine that it probably is true with counterfeit cosmetics but unlikley with pharmaceuticals. What do you think? Chris

From OUT-LAW News, 10/12/2009 and brought to our attention via @fmpickering - thanks Francine!

Nearly half the people who buy counterfeit handbags buy the real thing within two years, according to an academic study. The research shows that fakes can create brand loyalty in the counterfeited brands.

A researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who used to be a brand manager at luxury goods firm Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) asked hundreds of fake bag buyers about their habits in an unpublished study ‘The Real Value Of Fakes’.

Renee Richardson Gosline interviewed the consumers who knew when they bought them that the bags were fakes and found that 46% of them bought authentic branded bags within two years.

“For some status-seeking people, at least, the social power of luxury goods means that consumption must not just be conspicuous, but real,” said a statement from MIT describing the research.

“The counterfeit actually served as a placebo for brand attachment,” Gosline told news service Bloomberg . “People were becoming increasingly attached to the real brand even though they never possessed it at all.”

You can read the full article here: OUT-LAW New

You can find further information on counterfeiting and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming counterfeiting workshops – let us know.

Counterfeiting? Protecting your customers’ brands through packaging

Posted in Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Design, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Product News, Technology on December 14th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

The dangers of counterfeiting drive the need for package and brand security. The following is an extract from a recent Converting Magazine event in the US, detailed by Natalie Hasselbacher, Converting Magazine, 3rd June 2009, which provides some useful insights into successful anti-counterfeiting and security techniques and technologies.

Three speakers presented during an anti-counterfeiting session on the importance of product security and possible ways for its implementation among capable converting facilities. Discussions highlighted a desperate need for package security to save a company’s brand whilst also ensuring safety to consumers.

Jim Reiman, Sales Director at Sun Chemical Security, said once anti-counterfeiting technology is applied to a package or label, the most important thing for brand owners to consider is a strategy and who will authenticate. “Articulating a high-level strategy and defining the problem is important,” he said. “Clearly articulating requirements with metrics and an internal agreement among company employees for proper implementation is a must. You have to question whether consumers, customs, investigators or retail will authenticate.”

Reiman also discussed Sun Chemical’s newest technologies that reportedly fight counterfeiting. The Verigard is a low level taggant that is said to work in any ink or adhesive while printing using most methods including flexo, gravure and offset.

A second speaker, Jim Colby, a Consultant for ExPev Solutions, referred to interdiction, authentication and a secure supply chain as the three ways to stop counterfeiting.

Thirdly, Juliet Midlik, Sales Manager for Prime UV Systems, mentioned that most of the company’s customers purchasing UV drying systems are applying anti-counterfeiting coatings and inks on food packaging.

The full article can be read here:

You can find further information on counterfeiting and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming counterfeiting workshops – let us know.

Chartered Environmentalist + WRAP Technical Advisors x 2 = Good News

Posted in Associations, Awards, Design, Design Cognition News, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Recycling, cost-optimisation on December 14th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

Just a quick note to confirm that both Annie and myself have been honoured with the title of Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) by the Society for the Environment, through our membership of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and because of our life-long commitment to developing sustainable packaging solutions in our day-to-day projects. It’s nice to have it recognised and, by implication, recognition of the fact that packaging actually provides a beneficial (environmental) role in society.

This also sits nicely with our appointment last year as Technical Advisors to WRAP (the UK government-run Waste Resources & Action Programme) in ‘Waste Minimisation – Packaging Product Waste’. I feel that a key component of this has been our understanding of the requirements of present environmental legislation, in particular the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging waste) and Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations, which have been key in a number of recent environmental & sustainability assessments

‘Sustainable development’ to me is all about taking a ‘helicopter’ view of any product development to understand:

  • environmental impacts throughout the whole supply chain (from raw material extraction, through use & disposal, to reuse and recovery) whilst
  • attempting to meet consumer convenience needs,
  • BUT minimising the overall environmental impact through intelligent design of pack (primary, secondary & tertiary), using the optimum material specifications & most economical footprint possible.

I believe that key to our CEnv award was our continued application of the principles of sustainable environmental management and development in our work. Over my 30 year career ‘the environment’ has become ever-more prominent on everybody’s agenda, evolving from the early days of the ‘Topfer Decree’ to the more recent ‘Plan A’. We have endeavoured throughout to apply the principles of sustainable environmental management and development in all of our work as ‘environmental packaging champions’:

  • Acting as an internal consultants for marketers & other business stakeholders – advising on ‘fitness for purpose’ and ‘environmental best-practice’.
  • Highlighting issues with existing packaging to our work colleagues
  • Applying ‘sustainable principles in the hundreds of packaging developments on which We’ve worked

Moving forwards, I pledge that Design Cognition will continue applying the principles of sustainable development and environmental responsibility in all of our work. As CEO of a company that not only develops packaging but also acts in a consultancy capacity (advising on packaging ‘sustainability’ & ‘the environment’) I carry the mantle with a great deal of pride and self-fulfilment – enjoying making a ‘real difference’ in the world.

  • Our initial discussions with clients always encompass sustainable aspects – and that will continue
  • One of our ‘values’ (shown on our website) is to be ‘environmentally aware’:
  • “bearing in mind our impact on the environment and eco-systems in all that we develop and in our day-to-day business”
  • Through this ethos I will encourage all in Design Cognition to ‘live’ our environmental policy as a holistic approach to encompass not only work we do for clients but also in our day-to-day business activities.

We look forward to working with you :-)


Bamboo to replace corrugated packaging @ Dell

Posted in Design, Environmental Issues, Innovation, Materials, Opinion on December 14th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 1 Comment

Following on from an article we ran earlier in the year on a bicycle made from bamboo, this demonstrates another interesting use of bamboo, which is evidently a strong, sustainable and cost-effective solution. As long as good ‘Forest Stewardship’ is demonstrated to avoid local bamboo depletion, this has the ‘thumbs-up’ from us!  Chris

Via Simeon Goldstein,, 18 November 2009 Computer giant Dell has selected packaging made from bamboo as an alternative to the paper pulp, corrugated and expanded plastic packs to ship its laptops. The China-sourced bamboo is being used for the cushions that cradle the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 and 10v netbooks inside an outer box made from 25% post-consumer material.

You can read the full article in Packaging News here:

Interactive Christmas Tree

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

This is another photo that we received via email that made us laugh. So if you haven’t yet bought a tree, here is a novel way to keep you occupied and entertained in the run-up to Christmas and avoid depleting the planets’ resources at the same time!. But please remember to ‘drink responsibly & don’t drive afterwards ;-) . Chris

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Grolsch Christmas Tree - a novel & festive use of packaging

Grolsch Christmas Tree - novel re-use of beer bottle packaging

Many thanks to – There are some other funny photos at this website.

Advent Calendar – humorous variation – Move over Cadbury’s!

Posted in Design, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Gift Packaging, Innovation, Opinion, Recycling, cost-optimisation on December 10th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments

We just received this picture via email and it made us laugh. We thought that you might like it too.  A very novel re-use of packaging to minimise scarce resources. Have a guess from which northern UK country it originated? Chris

tennants image001_1

Novel re-use for Tennants Lager packaging