Packaging firms are attracted to the lower-wage countries such as India and China having an eager and plentiful workforce. Worldwide drug packaging is expected to reach new heights, predicting growth of 5.3 per cent annually to $24.3 billion (€20 7 billion) in 2009 according to the new report published by Freedonia group. 

Pharmaceutical Packaging Industry

  • Packaging is an important part of drug delivery and helps create a unique brand identity for the drugs and instant recognition for the consumer. Most decisions taken by doctors depend upon the external appearance of the drug and hence packaging plays a vital role in marketing too.
  • In terms of drug delivery devices, inhalers pumps and transdermal patches, pulmonary delivery tubes, intravenous vials are replacing oral drugs which are difficult to consume when patients are serious and unconscious. 
  • Pharma industry has moved with the times to adopt newer and modern technologies to provide both safety and convenience in packaging. There is a major shift towards Alu – Alu and tamper proof cases in packaging methodologies. The key reasons for this are the convenience, appearance and prevention of pilferage 
  • Currently worth about Rs 90,000 crore, the pharma packaging industry in India is considered a sunrise industry with a great scope for entrepreneurship and marketing. It is growing at a rate of 15 per cent annually, which is just double to the global packaging industry growth. 
  • It is estimated that more than 80% of the total packaging in India constitutes rigid packaging, which is the oldest and the most conventional form of packaging. Rigid packaging constitutes glass bottles, metal cans, aerosol cans, battery cell cans, aluminum collapsible tubes, injection moulded plastic containers made of PVC, PET, HOPE, barrels made from HOPE, paperboards, and corrugated boxes. 
  • The remaining 20% comprises flexible packaging. Flexible packaging contains multi-layered laminated sheets of single or a combination of substrates such as plastic, paper or aluminium. Flexible packaging finds varied use because of its ability to provide strength, moisture resistance, aroma retention, gloss, grease resistance, heat retention, sealability, printability and low odour. Flexible packaging has gained vast acceptability because of the protection it offers to the product against environmental threats like moisture, heat, and chemical reaction. More so, convenience in handling the product and the cost benefits it provides are added advantages.
  • The packaging and machinery sector in India is still lacking in innovation. Reluctance to invest in research to invent novel solutions to diverging requirements has led to increased dependence of imported machinery.
  • India is ranked 15th in the world for its paper and paperboard consumption and is expected to improve its rank in the future. Paper is the fastest growing substrate segment with a growth rate of 6-7%. The total demand for paper currently is estimated to be around 6 mn tones, of which about 40% is consumed by the packaging industry. If the demand for paper continues to grow at the same rate, total paper consumption is expected to reach 9.5mn tones by 2010.

Global View

  • The ten largest drug-producing countries will absorb more than 80 per cent of revenues: the US, Japan, France, the UK, China, Germany, Italy, India, Switzerland and Brazil.
  • World's packaging machinery market is set to cross $30 billion in the next two years.
  • Pharmaceutical and personal care products packaging equipment is currently growing at a double digit figure and is estimated to touch $5 billion in 2010, fuelled by the higher growth in this sector in developing countries.

The Asian packaging market is estimated to be nearly US$ 120 bn

  • Japan accounting for 48 per cent,
  • China 32 per cent, 
  • India 12 per cent and 
  • others 8 per cent.

Industry Wise

  • Food and beverages 85 per cent by Value US$ 102 bn
  • pharma 10 percent  by Value US$ 12 bn and 
  • others 5 percent by value US$ 6 bn

In terms of materials

  • plastics account for 40 per cent, 
  • paper board 34 per cent, 
  • metal 14 per cent and 
  • glass 12 per cent.

Largest producer of packaging machinery (all with annual shipments in excess of $1bn)

  1. US
  2. Japan.
  3. Germany,
  4. Italy
  5. China,

The major net exporters of packaging equipment are

  1. Germany 
  2. Italy
  3. Sweden 
  4.  Japan.

Future Trend

The overall average growth in the Asian region is 15 per cent. Between the years 1998 and 2008 packaging  value is estimated move from about US$ 100 bn to 102 bn.

In the next five years, world pharmaceutical market alone is poised grow at a rate of 8 percent with business opportunity of over a US$ trillion. Countries like USA, Japan and those of Europe led by Germany shall remain dominant market controlling over 80 percent trade opportunities. Asian countries like South Korea, Taiwan and India are expected to have growth rates ranging from 12 to 15 percent annually.

RFID is set to grow to $4.8bn (€3.8bn) in 2011 and reach $14.1bn in 2013, according to a recent report by research firm NanoMarkets.

The packaging companies worldwide are actively exploring ways to develop nanotechnology-based materials. some leading global companies have attempted to develop nanocomposite-based polymer films, bottles, coatings and inks. For instance, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc. (Mitsubishi) together with Nanocor Inc. (Nanocor), a subsidiary of AMCOL International Corporation, has developed nanoclay/ MXD6 nylon blend (nylon nanocomposite) for use as a barrier layer in multilayer PET bottles. It is also interesting to note that there are 250 nanopackaging-based products in the market.

Constant inclination for innovation, in the wake of crucial concerns like environmental factors, transportation and storage in drug packing industry is the need of the hour.

To adopt customized packaging solutions only to achieve maximum advantage from the medicine administered.

At least 5 percent of the budget allocation from the total turnover of large companies is used for innovative pharma packaging technology.