Home drug delivery: the new challenge of pharmaceutical packaging

Home drug delivery is experiencing strong growth: those who saw the initiative as a “flash in the pan” due to the pandemic, has to reconsider it. This new sales model has many benefits for the patient, but it also poses new challenges for pharmaceutical companies, in distribution, market approach, and even pharmaceutical packaging strategies. But let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon.

Pharma delivery: a clear upward trend

This is what emerges from recent research conducted by Pharmap, an Italian start-up specializing in online drug sales:

  • 9 out of 10 respondents consider pharma delivery service to be “essential,” even from traditional “under-home pharmacies.”
  • 77%  said they increasingly use this solution, often discovered with the pandemic, because of the convenience of the service (47%), because it also involves prescription drugs (32%);
  • 98% consider same-day delivery a key requirement for loyalty with the retailer;
  • 52% said they became regular customers of the store after purchasing online.

But Italy is not an isolated case. Growth is also evident internationally: the well-known market research firm Blue Weave Consulting has compiled a report on the development of the “Drug Delivery Market” by analyzing its trends from 2018 to the present and drawing out forecasts through 2028. According to the research, in 2021, home drug delivery accounted for $1.650.4 billion in business worldwide*. An impressive figure, but one that is projected to soar over the next 6 years, reaching $2.433.7 billion by 2028, for CAGR of 5.8%.

Why do users choose home drug delivery?

The home drug distribution model has many advantages: the first is undoubtedly the convenience of the service, especially for those who live outside urban centers, as it allows them to make essential purchases even during the closing hours of pharmacies or on Sundays. No long lines, no numbers, zero risk of having to take a second trip because the medication present is not required and must be ordered.

The main beneficiaries are the disabled and elderly with reduced mobility, who may find it difficult to travel to the nearest store. But the most valuable target audience for online drug sales is undoubtedly caregivers: in fact, often those who purchase drugs online, especially for elderly patients, are not the patients themselves but family members who care for them and who often do not live in the same house.

With online purchasing and home delivery of medications, they can make the purchase remotely and have it delivered quickly, even if they leave the office at a time when pharmacies are closed. Home delivery of medicines thus becomes a therapeutic response to a social need. Also because more and more patients are suffering from chronic medical conditions and need medication on a regular basis. These are often age-related medical conditions, such as hypertension or rheumatoid arthritis, but also more serious ones, such as multiple sclerosis.

An elderly patient who lives alone and is bedridden would not be able to purchase these medications without the help of other people, including family and friends (who do not necessarily live nearby). In addition, some pharmacies deliver medications only during store hours, when most people are at work-this can make it difficult for elderly people with limited mobility and transportation to get the help they need to stay healthy outside these restricted hours.

The pharmaceutical packaging challenge: reliable solutions that are easy to transport and store.

Drug distribution services are a key part of the pharmaceutical supply chain. But they are also perhaps the part of the supply chain that we take most for granted. They involve transporting drugs from the manufacturing site to warehouses or distribution facilities (including pharmacies), where they are stored until they are requested by patients. During this route, which is by no means short, there is a high risk of damage (which would compromise the integrity and thus the efficacy of the drug), but also of tampering attempts (as we explored in a recent article on pharmaceutical counterfeiting). It is therefore crucial that

drugs are packaged appropriately for this purpose. The difference between the online channel and the point of sale is that the supply chain is shortened, moving from the hands of the distributor to those of the buyer without going through the retailer. This decreases the physical risks but also the “human” control over the product, which is therefore more exposed to possible falsification.

Brand protection is crucial for pharmaceutical companies, but also for the patient, because only an original and perfectly preserved drug can be said to be safe.

The online marketplace also poses a new challenge: that of ecology. Shipments necessitate large amounts of secondary packaging, such as cardboard boxes, as well as protective packaging such as bubble wrap or paper. Once the package has reached its destination, these materials are directly thrown into the trash: an environmental impact that can no longer be ignored, even by the pharmaceutical chain.

On the other hand, it is more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to turn to environmentally friendly alternatives for packaging, such as compostable biopolymers: in fact, every drug must meet strict regulatory criteria before it can be placed on the market, which directly involves its packaging as well. Before a “new material” passes regulatory scrutiny, it must undergo many tests and bureaucratic procedures to ensure its safety and compliance. An understandable reason but one that slows down the pace of a change that has been knocking at the door for years already.

Aluminum drug tubes: the winning solution, even at home

Aluminum pharmaceutical tubes are an ideal solution for home delivery of topical medications, such as ointments or salves:

  • are lightweight, which greatly affects transportation (including economics) making them usable for even the most daring forms of intermodal transportation, such as drug delivery by drones;
  • They are safe: they offer a total barrier to air and light, so they effectively protect the drug throughout the journey (including stops in storage);
  • They are reliable by using techniques that discourage counterfeiting, such as digital printing or integration with mobile applications;
  • They are easy to use because they allow excellent control of dispensing;
  • They are environmentally friendly because aluminum is 100% and infinitely recyclable without losing its original qualities and with less energy expenditure than production from raw material.
  • They are anti-waste because they can be squeezed to the last drop of product.

Aluminum deformable tubes once again confirm how tradition can be the best innovation. Tubettificio Favia has over 80 years of experience working alongside the most important international pharmaceutical companies. Contact us with confidence: we will be happy to talk together about your packaging strategies and send you a sample of tubes.

*The research focused on the following markets: USA, Canada, Germana, UK, France, Italy, Spain, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa

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