Posts Tagged ‘ethical’

Life-saving packaging in Haiti

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Government, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Safety on January 20th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 3 Comments

As we move into the second week following the Haitian earthquake, things have been fraught for the local population, most of whom have been without food, water, electricity, or a roof over their heads. During that period dead bodies have been piling up all over the place, including hospital car parks where medical supplies have been in short supply and many of the surgical operations that have been carried out, have been done without anaesthetic.

Medical, food & water supplies packaged to survive a harsh environment

Medical, food & water supplies packaged to survive a harsh environment

Although of no consolation to those that have perished over the past week, luckily the logistical situation is improving now that US ships have arrived and helicopters are finally getting to the places they are needed with those essential supplies. It is at times like this that we are reminded of the true worth of packaging,  in an environment where there are no fridges to keep things cool and packaging has to perform an even more essential role than normal in a very hostile environment. The packaging contains, avoiding spillage. It protects against crushing, vermin & pilfering. It preserves, providing protection for the products within and extended shelf life. It enables ease of transport, whether by plane, truck or onwards by hand and lastly it informs, providing vital information on contents, storage, dosage and application.

In summary, it provides a lifeline where, without it, medical supplies would arrive dirty and non-sterile, food would ’spoil’ within hours and water would become contaminated, leading to dysentery and further distress and trauma. So, packaging, where on earth would we be without it? Chris Penfold

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 OtCM™ and Dose Guard™ 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 OtCM™ 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 (

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:

Healthcare Packaging

Posted in Design, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Technology on October 23rd, 2009 by Anne Dallison – 10 Comments

Simulating drug-packaging conditions can save up to six months in development time.

For pharmaceutical companies, time is money: Those who get to market first with a new product will often capture the largest customer share and maximize profits.Innovators of new drugs commit considerable resources to developing and seeking approval for breakthrough products. The sooner they can market a new product, the sooner they can begin to see returns on their investment. Time is of the essence for manufacturers of generic drugs, too, since they often have a suite of drug applications pending and vie with competitors to be the first to commercialize their products for the 180-day period of marketing exclusivity. For these reasons, technologies and services that streamline drug development can provide important competitive advantages to drug manufacturers.Sophisticated packaging simulation modeling can help formulation chemists and packaging engineers identify the right conditions in which to ensure the stability and potency of drugs. This mechanism, referred to as ‘pseudo-empirical’ modeling, can be performed early in the development process, guiding production decisions and helping to avoid costly errors that could prove to be roadblocks to production.Pseudo-empirical modeling is a technique that uses empirically derived data measurements from the packaging materials, including moisture vapor transmission rate MVTR through the bottle, surface area of the bottle, sorbent adsorption isotherms, and drug product adsorption/desorption isotherms. Linking these variables together mathematically will pseudo-empirically predict the relative humidity of a pharmaceutical package’s headspace and drug product hydration level over time. This resulting information will ultimately determine the means by which manufacturers can maintain a drug’s chemical and physical characteristics over time.

via Healthcare Packaging.

SIG pips rivals to produce first one-litre aseptic FSC carton |

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Materials, Technology on October 21st, 2009 by Anne Dallison – Be the first to comment

SIG pips rivals to produce first one-litre aseptic FSC carton.

SIG Combibloc has won the race to produce the first FSC-certified one-litre aseptic beverage carton for packaging long-life juice drinks and ice teas.The first run of the new cartons, which are marked with the FSC logo on the corner of the packaging, have gone on sale in all German branches of supermarket Lidl.Its launch means that the company has pipped Tetra Pak to bring a one-litre FSC-certified aseptic carton to market.

via SIG pips rivals to produce first one-litre aseptic FSC carton | Ben Bold

Walmart ‘ups the environmental ante’ – 15 Questions for Suppliers

Posted in Business News, Design, Environmental Issues, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Recycling, Retailers on July 29th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

Well it looks as though Walmart is keeping up the pressure on the industry to improve its environmental performance, which is not a bad thing if it helps saves the planet and makes everyone in the supply chain more aware of their responsibilities.  Walmart announced they will be asking their suppliers 15 simple questions (see below) about how they produced the product and packaging. The questions fall into 4 categories:

  • Energy and Climate: Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Material Efficiency: Reducing Waste and Enhancing Quality
  • Natural Resources: Producing High Quality, Responsibly Sourced Raw Materials
  • People and Community: Ensuring Responsible and Ethical Production

This is an effort to help to create a sustainability index number to provide customers with product information in a simple, convenient, easy to understand rating, so they can make choices and consume in a more sustainable way.

So what does this mean to the packaging industry?

Those companies who design and develop packaging will need to know and understand these 15 questions and how they contribute to their customers’ answers as suppliers to Walmart.

Have a read and let us know what you think.

Thanks go out to Branding & Marketing Guru @chrisbrown330 for bringing our attention to this article

You can read Chris’ full article at:

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Supermarkets cut plastic bag use by 48%, says WRAP

Posted in Environmental Issues, Opinion, Recycling, Retailers on July 17th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments

It’s good to see that consumers are thinking more about their carrier bag usage and there has been a HUGE voluntary reduction, so why is this being turned into a negative news story by the media (because it’s fallen short of the 50% target)? I also tend to agree with Barry Turner, chairman of the Carrier Bag Consortium, that this continuous focus on plastic carrier bags is taking everyone’s eyes off the ‘bigger picture’ and all of the other good work that has been done by supermarkets. After all, plastic carrier bags represent less than 1% of all household waste in the UK. So let’s get our priorities right guys and concentrate on the ’sharks’ and not the ‘minnows’. Chris Penfold

Supermarkets cut plastic bag use by 48%, says WRAP Simeon Goldstein,, 17 July 2009

Carrier bag usage has almost halved in the past three years, according to new data from WRAP.

Read the full article here: Supermarkets cut plastic bag use by 48%, says Wrap |

Sustainable packaging trend gathering pace

Posted in Environmental Issues, Opinion, Retailers, Tweets on July 16th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments

This article provides a fascinating insight into consumer behaviour. I think that it’s no surprise that ecological issues are higher on Consumers’ agenda but it’s interesting to read that “In 2008, 40% of UK respondents agreed that they seek alternative products if they believe their first choice to be packaged excessively” – I’m not sure that I believe that in reality – but I’m sure that it’s growing. Also interesting to read about the correlation of environmental issues and cost-optimisation being linked because of the ‘recession’.  We have certainly found this at Design Cognition.

Overall I believe that it’s certainly true that “consumer packaged goods companies should continue to evaluate their packaging in order to align themselves with an emerging consumer trend” – they ignore at their peril! Chris Penfold

Sustainable packaging trend gathering pace – A new report* from independent market analyst Datamonitor identifies sustainable packaging as a growing consumer issue, revealing that, although sustainable packaging is not yet a primary motivator of purchases, it is becoming a consumer expectation.

Sustainable packaging is one of a growing number of issues driven by ethics, economics and environmentalism. Economic imperatives, as well as possible greater regulation, mean that more brands need to consider adapting their present approach to accommodate sustainable packaging, comments Matthew Adams**, consumer analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.

Read the full article here on Bizcommunity: Sustainable packaging trend gathering pace.

Thanks to @packagingdiva and @NYDesign for bringing our attention to this article on Twitter

Boots pulls out of ethical trading commitment

Posted in Business News, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Environmental Issues, Retailers on June 22nd, 2009 by Jane Bear – 10 Comments


By Guy Montague-Jones, 22-Jun-2009

Boots has been accused of “turning its back on workers” after the health and beauty retailer pulled out of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).

The ETI aims to improve conditions and rights for workers and has built up a membership that includes 56 firms with a joint turnover of more than £100bn. NGOs and trade unions are also members and their job is to scrutinize company claims and ensure that they honour their ethical commitments.

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