CPI’s new project to bring a world-class medicines smart packaging capability to the UK


The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the UK’s technology innovation provider for process manufacturing, announced that it has begun the first phase of its ‘Medicines Smart Packaging’ project. This phase of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) funded project, known as SmartMed, will begin the process of crystallising the needs for innovation in the smart packaging of medicines and medical devices leading to the creation of an innovation capability.

The healthcare sector is in the midst of change, driven by multiple factors including longer life expectancies, a rise in chronic disease and a shift in the pharmaceutical industry towards advanced and personalised therapies. There is also an increasing number of people taking multiple medicines, putting pressure on the NHS to be able to track exactly where drugs are going and when patients are taking them. With the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt’s target for digital-led NHS treatment by 2018, there is increasing expectation on the sector to use technology, such as smart packaging, to address these issues.

Using smart packaging would also benefit organisations such as distribution companies, who could track and monitor medicines throughout the supply chain, as well as pharmaceutical companies who could use sensors to monitor environmental conditions during storage and delivery including temperature, humidity and damage, to ensure that medicines are effective when they reach the patient. Smart packaging for medicines could feature printed sensors that can also be used to help with patient compliance. This is a major issue for healthcare, because patients that do not take their medicines as prescribed not only risk their health, but also contribute to significant economic losses for healthcare providers such as the NHS in the UK.

“From manufacture to clinical supply to patients, digital technologies and new types of material have the potential to revolutionise the way in which medicines are packaged and therapies of all kinds are delivered. Innovation in this area can help to improve both the effectiveness and experience of treatments for patients,” says Richard Baker, head of policy and strategy at the North East LEP.

“The North East has established strengths in technologies like printable electronics, product formulation and digital application which, if brought together, could make a step change in medicines delivery and also develop approaches of value to other industries such as food and consumer products. We’re delighted to be working with CPI and other partners on this project which will aim to ensure that the North East takes a leading role in this area.”

The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), a partnership between the UK government and industry, has endorsed the creation of a national centre of excellence in packaging for medicines.  This will support the development of the next generation of packaging technology and the associated smart devices required for new and novel medicines, including specialist packaging needed throughout the manufacturing supply chain. The proposed world-class centre of excellence would allow medicine manufacturing and medical technology companies to build their niche capabilities and differentiate themselves in the global marketplace, securing activity and creating jobs.

“The project will focus on defining and crystallising the user requirements leading to a significant and globally recognised innovation capability in the North East, helping UK companies to stay at the forefront,” says Alex Cole, Centre for Process Innovation.

Caption: CPI’s SmartMed project will utilise expertise in printable electronics to deliver smart packaging applications (photo: CPI)

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